USC’S NEON TOMMY REPORTER CALLIE SCHWEITZER CAUSES LA’S PUBLIC HEALTH GUY TO HIDE OUT
Yes I know my pals Marc Cooper and Kevin Roderick already mentioned this, but after reading two inexcusably fact-challenged stories by so-called experienced and professional journalists, this tale of the exploits of Callie Schweitzer and her fellow Neon Tommy reporters, bears repeating and further praising.
For the past several weeks, Annenberg grad student Schweitzer and some of the other reporters working with her have been trying to have a brief conversation with L.A. County Director of Public Health Jonathan Fielding, about the county’s H1N1 deaths, and Fielding has reportedly dodged the calls.
Schweitzer and pals were working on a major package that looked at swine flu deaths across LA and analyzed what those deaths might suggest in terms of patterns.
As the main public health guy for LA, one would think that Fielding should get on the phone with the Neon Tommy reporters, given the nature of their investigation. But in any case, he didn’t. Who know, maybe he was always really, really busy.
But that’s not the weird part.
The weird part is the fact that, this past Tuesday when Neon Tommy’s Callie was booked by Warren Olney’s producers for Olney’s Which Way LA? radio show, they also booked Fielding—WHO ONLY AGREED TO BE ON THE SHOW if he was on air when Callie Schweitzer was off.
Are you serious????
Now, keep in mind WWLA? is not exactly some kind of talking heads free-for-all such as one frequently sees among the so-called “professionals” on cable TV news.
Warren runs a tight (and reasonably polite) ship. So it is not that Fielding had to worry that the intrepid grad student was going to put him in a metaphorical choke hold. (Although she is not my student, Schweitzer doesn’t strike me as the choke hold type anyway. She seems rather, you know, smart and competent.)
Now Callie Schweitzer and the Neon Tommy reporting group have written an open letter to Mr. Fielding. Which you can find right here (along with a podcast version of the WWLA? show in question).
I recommend you read the whole thing. It’ll cheer you up.
So why can I not possibly be pessimistic about the future of journalism in the face of all the massive circulation drops, layoffs and publications closings? Because of terrific young reporters like Callie Schweitzer. (This prominently includes the two classes full of smart and enthusiastic young men and women I am lucky enough to teach on Tuesdays and Fridays—at Annenberg and at UC Irvine.)
SCHWARZENEGGER COMPLIES WITH JUDGES ON PRISON POP REDUCTION—(SORT OF)
After the panel of three federal judges, led by U.S. Court Judge Thelton Henderson, rejected the state’s last proposal to comply with the panel’s requirement that the governor come up with a way to reduce California’s prison population bu 40,000 prisoners, Governor Schwarzenegger is set to submit a new plan Thursday night.
And then he plans to tell the judges that his proposed plan isn’t legal.
If the discrepancy between the first statement and the second is giving you whiplash, keep in mind that the governor’s previous plan, submitted in September (and rejected in October) instead of reducing the population by the requisite 40,000, only dropped by little more than half that much, or 23,000.
Not surprisingly, that plan didn’t work at all for Judge Henderson and company.
Plus there is also the matter of the case that Arnold and Jerry Brown have filed before the U.S. Supreme Court contending that they don’t have to comply with the 3 judges’ demands at all anyway.
Michael Rothfeld of the LA Times has a good report on the intricacies of the story.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tonight will give federal judges a road map to reducing state prison overcrowding that involves waiving some state laws so sentencing regulations can be changed and new private prisons built.
But the governor also will disavow those solutions as illegal, said Oscar Hidalgo, a spokesman for the
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
An initial plan that Schwarzenegger submitted was rejected three weeks ago by the three judges, who threatened him with contempt of court for failing to meet their demand for a proposal to reduce the inmate population by 40,000 prisoners over two years.
With his new proposal, the governor appears to be trying to avoid open defiance of the judges without giving the impression that he is contradicting his opposition to their efforts in an appeal now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The new plan, which the governor says would reduce the prison population by 42,000 by December 2011, will heed the judges’ Oct. 21 order to identify state laws that they would need to suspend to meet their goal.
Yet Schwarzenegger also is expected to tell the judges he does not believe it would be legal for them to waive those laws. He contends that it is improper for the federal courts to intrude into the state’s affairs.
Real estate investor and attorney Douglas Ring—also the former husband of city council woman, Cindy Miscikowski, was found dead in his Brentwood home Thursday. Police are investigating Ring’s death as a possible suicide.
A new initiative that may or may not be headed for next year’s ballot would require—-not allow, require—California public schools to have their students sing Christmas carols.
The LA Times’s editorial handles the militantly batty matter with exactly the right touch. Here’s a representative clip:
Merry Susan Hyatt, the substitute teacher who is spearheading the petition drive, is optimistic that she can garner the 434,000 signatures required to put the initiative on the ballot. “We got 25 signatures in just two nights,” she gushed to the New York Times. At that rate, we can expect the Christmas carol referendum in about 95 years — assuming those Grinches at the American Civil Liberties Union don’t sidetrack it in the courts. (It is, of course, blatantly unconstitutional, favoring as it does not only religion but a particular faith.)