MALIBU (CBSLA) — A number of text message exchanges between Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and firefighters during the deadly Woolsey fire last year were recently released to the Los Angeles Times, but it’s what wasn’t included that’s raising concerns.
“If there’s nothing to hide, why redact it,” Malibu Mayor Jefferson Wagner said.
The heavily redacted text messages show Garcetti asking Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas to check on certain addresses, but those addresses were redacted by the city before the text exchanges were released to the newspaper.
“I would like to know myself,” Wagner said. “It should be neighborhood service no matter who you are or where you are.”
But the city told the Times that the address was redacted to protect the homeowner’s privacy. As for other requests to check on specific streets where homes were lost, the mayor’s office said the mayor wanted the firefighters to check on Bell Canyon and West Hills because they were threatened by the fire.
But Wagner, who was hospitalized after staying to protect his own home, said taxpayers have the right to know everything that was in those exchanges.
“I wouldn’t conduct my business that way,” Wagner said. “I would have just said, ‘Open the books, and whatever is wrong, let’s get it over with now.'”
Complicating matters, a report by the LAFD — which responded because county resources were tied up — found that fire officials were distracted by what it called a “significant number” of requests by political figures to check on specific addresses.
Terrazas has previously said that should not have been in the report. He chalked up its inclusion to a miscommunication.