Mailbag: Bunny is more of a distraction

I was one of the Glendale residents caught in the “Bunny Sting.” I would have appreciated the lesson learned and accepted my traffic violation with humility if I had understood anything about what happened at Garfield and Central avenues (“Sting like a bunny,” April 1).

All I know is that I saw a huge bunny on the side of the road (and no, I had not had any alcohol for lunch). He appeared to be flailing his arms around, and as I slowed to a crawl he came toward me. Alarmed, confused and unsure of the bunny’s intentions, my mind made several — what I feel are valid — split-second decisions.

In these economic times, it briefly occurred to me that someone in a rabbit suit could use this method to approach a car at an intersection, momentarily disorient you and car-jack your vehicle. My other thought, as a female, is that this would be a way to slow down a driver, jump into the passenger seat and commit a violent crime.

Another thought was that this was a nut case, wandering the streets in a rabbit suit (this is Southern California after all). My final deduction was that this was an advertising stunt by either a new restaurant or an apartment complex trying to entice potential tenants. Because I had neither the time nor interest in patronizing either, my near stop did not become a complete stop, and I slowly continued up Central.

Imagine my surprise when I was subsequently pulled over by a motorcycle cop and sarcastically asked, “Did you not see the bunny?”

Stunned, I replied that in fact I had and was about to ask if the bunny had committed a crime, when I was chastised for not yielding to a pedestrian.

I explained to the officer my reasons for not stopping for the rabbit, or should I say “pedestrian,” but they fell on deaf ears, and I solemnly drove home. Like many residents in Glendale, I applaud the police task force for working on the serious problem our city has with pedestrian fatalities. I even appreciate that our law enforcement is willing to think out of the box in its attempts to tackle this problem.

However, I disagree with retired Officer Don Meredith that the “decoy program” is a positive way to handle such problems. This model, though undoubtedly well-intentioned, is problematic for several reasons.

A “decoy,” according to a dictionary source, is described as “to lead into danger by artifice; to lure into a net or snare; to entrap; to ensnare; to allure; to entice.”

Use of a “decoy” distracts and conceals the “real” issue and thus does not educate or alert drivers about stopping for pedestrians in marked or unmarked crosswalks.

If the Police Department wants to educate the public about this pedestrian right-of-way, or elucidate a pedestrian fatality problem, then they should deal with the problem directly, without distractions or attempts to convolute the problem with an Easter Bunny or other costumed character.

Using a decoy to teach lessons, or illustrate points, does not allow the crux of the problem to be the center of focus. Ultimately, the issue becomes about the decoy, not the problem itself, as it did in last week’s “Bunny Sting.” If you want to point out that we have a serious problem with pedestrian fatalities, then use the real-world scenario of a civilian-dressed, officer/pedestrian attempting to do what the other pedestrians did who were killed when using Glendale crosswalks.

More importantly, using a cartoon character makes a mockery or joke out of a real and deadly problem our city has. And frankly, the confusion and bewilderment a cartoon character on the road can cause could be distracting enough to a driver to actually cause an accident.

A fact that should not be overlooked is that this is a potential liability to our city. Additionally, I do not think Councilman John Drayman’s comments on the issue were directed at the Glendale Police Department itself, but were specific to the “Bunny Sting.” He merely pointed out that the decoy method lacked common sense and city resources would be better spent in another way.

Drayman not only has a duty as a City Council member to express the sentiments of Glendale residents, but to comment on any city entity that may have made a poor choice.

I am grateful to have a police department that is proactive about public safety, and I recognize their good intentions in regards to this issue. I am equally appreciative that there are council members willing to speak up, discuss and share the concerns expressed on behalf of residents.

Surely in a world of imperfection, not every decision made by our Police Department, or any other entity for that matter, is always the best choice.



School board members like Gatto

We’re writing with only one week to go before the April 13 special election for the seat vacated by Paul Krekorian to urge you to join us in voting for Mike Gatto for Assembly District 43.

Gatto is a respected, thoughtful, hard-working and issues-savvy candidate — judicious as befits his work as an attorney and steeped in the understanding that comes with 10 years of experience working to help represent our area at the local and national level.

As the son and sibling of longtime teachers and as a part-time teacher of aspiring citizens himself, Gatto will bring both an understanding and appreciation of the educational needs of this state. He’ll also bring his experience in crafting necessary legislation, and fixing or deleting poor legislation.

In this woefully partisan era in which we live, we need to elect an Assembly member who is informed, sensible and pragmatic. If you hope for a less partisan, more collegial, more productive, more fiscally responsible state Legislature, vote for Gatto on April 13.

We serve on the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education, the last three years with Gatto’s opponent, Nayiri Nahabedian, and we have chosen to support Gatto. Remember to vote April 13! Your vote could make the difference!



Editor’s note: Wagner and Boger are Glendale school board members.

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