Sun, Jul

Daralyn Durie's Hot Streak Over


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - The window to buy a doctorate in social ethics at USC could be closing.  

Mark Ridley-Thomas was found guilty of bribery and conspiracy on Thursday morning, as well as one count of honest services mail fraud and four counts of honest services wire fraud. In all seven felonies.  All this despite the best efforts of Daralyn Durie, one of the nation's preeminent trial lawyers.    

That said, it may be time to buy over at the Center for Health Journalism at Annenberg, USC. They've got a number of nice fellowship posts and they couldn't come at a better time as turbulence in journalism continues roiling the markets. 

James Rainey, a good guy from the good old days had the latest bleaker report, that’s a not-especially-clever pun on the wildly popular Bleacher Report, about the state of local journalism.   

Without quibbling too much, down 50% in reporters, stories… everything down by half or more.  

Rainey capably notes how the Gannet paper from Salinas is down to zero reporters.   

This sounds like a coup for angling local politicians, but even they are perturbed by the state of affairs. 

One former editor told the Times, “it's hard to know what stories are being missed because reporters are not on the beat, asking questions, filing public records requests.”   



If you don’t, know - h/t on Twitter means “hat tip” A tip of one's hat was a signal of greeting, recognition, and respect. The modern h/t is likewise a gesture of civility.   

The h/t here discussed was from one city hall critic to another.  Their collaboration resulted in a doozy whopper of a public record get.   

After I posted the vintage City Council video entitled Ray Chan Love Fest 2017, a fawning civic tribute to the outgoing city macher, Ray Chan, on his retirement, some colleagues filed a public records act request for a key document.  

Ray’s wisdom, we heard from Ana Guerrero, the mayor’s chief of staff at the time had been captured for posterity in book form. Here is that book obtained through PRA, “What Successful LADBS Leaders Do and How to Do It in its original form, as a PowerPoint presentation”    

Disclosure: I have not yet read the entire document, working Tag: Recipe for corruption. 

Esotouric’s secret Los Angeles substack who did the PRA called it a “how-to guide to psychologically profiling and manipulating underlings to elicit maximum loyalty and performance.”    

Headlines like: “Reward others tangibly - show me the beef”  Yuck. 

In one section, Ray notes: "Watch others’ back and don’t betray them.” 

In another he addresses truthiness. 

Honest – tell the truth sincerely  

Lying, when caught, damages credibility and jeopardize relationships.  

Avoid the kind of conduct that we would have to lie about.  

If truth should not be told, then don’t tell (“No comment.”) or tell it in a way that would not create a negative impact.  

Tell a White Lie only if it is not told others will get hurt.” 

Thank you, Ray. 




Essential Californian: 

The newsletter Essential California did bros on bros adventure episode.  

Ryan Fonseca, who seems cool, said it was the most grueling reporting assignment of his career (and fun.) 

He and some bros started early and hit the waves in Malibu (surf), went skateboarding in Santa Monica and then dropped in at Big Bear on a snowboard to complete the “California Triple.” 

On the drive back, the bros had to take a moment to appreciate the fact that they’d be riding on two forms of water (liquid and solid) on the same day.  Whoa... 

“The stoke level is at an all-time high,” one of the gnarlators reported. “The boys are maxed out on vibes.” 

The term vibe only appeared seven times in the post and the day was both fully invigorating and exhausting, but Fonseca made it clear that the vibe throughout “was fully Californian.” 

Non-Essential Californian: 

 “They say democracy dies in darkness, and we are in absolutely dark times in Salinas,” says former editor of the Salinas Californian, Mary Duan.  

What happens when a town loses its local news?  Not good. 

Jon Schleuss, president of the NewsGuild, a unit of the Communications Workers of America, noted “The way that you run and grow a news business is you employ local journalists who cover stories that the community cares about.” 

The paper used to cover a lot of stuff, but in the latest news, Gannet has whittled down the reporting staff at the Californian to zero.   

The article by Rainey takes the reader back to the good old days when the Californian had over 30 reporters and forced President Clinton, who made an election season stop in Salinas in 1996,  to get his reelection committee to cough up the $50,000 to cover the Sheriff OT associated with his visit. 

It was a simpler time.  

Without reporters, the local happenings in Salinas will go uncovered, and the Californian, which was a "watchdog on local government and the politicians" will be sorely missed.  

Without the paper, "No one is looking at conflicts of interest."  

What, pray tell is the last line of defense for the civically engaged in Salinas?  

"Now we’re left reading the tweets of people who go to City Council meetings.”   

That's a diss but this is catastrophic! 

Affordable Foot Locker Housing: 

Retailers are already lining up to take over the approximately 400 shuttering Bed Bath & Beyond stores in strip malls, where customers can easily park in front.   

But 400 Foot Locker stores will likely stay vacant for significantly longer, according to retail landlords and real estate experts. 

The future of these spaces matters because they impact local tax bases, jobs, and the economic conditions of communities across America. Will they get a second life?  

I would support Foot Locker Affordable housing.  

Sporting Times:

The LA Times had Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Matt Hamilton, posted at the Mark Ridley-Thomas trial and he scored a transcript of the Jury Instructions which is a real public service. Thanks for that get.  

The LA Times is big on sports, but I could not find a story about the Sacramento Kings clinching the NBA playoff seat.  Whatever.  You can't cover everything.  

The Times did manage to travel 6,000 miles and attend 21 games during the senior season of Bronny James.  

After months of probing and over 70 interviews inside Sierra Canyon and outside the Times pronounced that two truths had come into focus:  “Bronny James is great, in his own way. And for many, that will never be enough."  Also, on-ball defense is his best skill.  

That was three things.  Thank you.   

The coach of Temecula Rancho Christian,  Ray Barefield, told the times, “Many people think you got to light up the scoreboard every night to be a superstar,”   

Not true.  

Blindingly Bright:

The coverage of the MRT trial was respectfully light to extra lite over at Knock.LA, who describe themselves as … Nonprofit independent journalism in LA // a project of  @GroundGameLA  

I recently discovered that the Knock name comes from the basic tool in community organizing, door-knocking.  Duh! 

Knock believes in Knocking on doors to win elections for a just and sustainable city.  They have open-door meetings every Thursday night.  The coverage is clearly to the left, but they claim to only report on local marginalized stories. 

A quick survey, "CA Governor Gavin Newsom signed historic legislation limiting the profits of oil companies."  


Oddly, the head tweet on their Twitter site is "Fuck that guy… He’s with the Blacks" but that's because they helped rush the story to the fore. 

One good recent headline, “The View From Inside: On Building Community Behind Bars.” 

Jon Peltz who was not on the MRT story posted that he wrote about last week's LAUSD worker strike for Jacobin.  I had to look that up.  Turns out, Jacobin is a "leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture." 

One reader inquired, "what publication doesn't have a bias?” 

One story was timely, “A year after the Echo Park Lake sweep, only 13 of the encampment's approximately 200 former residents were in permanent housing, according to a report by the UCLA Luskin Institute.” 

That’s not great. Thanks to UCLA and Zev.   

What about USC and MRT?  

Doh!  Shhh… 

In brighter news, Mr.  Peltz, one of the only hard hitters in town has been making inroads at the CENTER FOR HEALTH JOURNALISM FELLOWSHIPS over at USC’s Annenberg School of journalism. Not shabby at all. 

I’m not sure this will solve the mystery as to who has been funding GroundGameLA, but maybe this is a partial explainer.  

It's the Trojans, stupid!   

I doubt it, but "Why overpay Peltz at Knock, when USC has such a ripe endowment?"  

Peltz, like the rest of us, adores healthcare. I certainly appreciate a good Annenberg-branded anything, frankly.   

Peltz's latest for the 2023 California Health Equity Fellowship is about how "after receiving Section 8 vouchers, unhoused residents in LA still struggle to find housing." 

His post this month is the Most Read article over at Annenberg's Center for Health website.  

Don't know if he was awarded money, but I certainly hope so.   

I also noted that the Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 National Fellowship is OPEN and a qualified writer could land a $2,000 to $10,000 reporting grant, which would include five months of mentoring from a veteran journalist, and a week of intensive training at USC Annenberg in Los Angeles from July 16-20. 

The application form is due May 5.   

The Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 Symposium on Domestic Violence provides reporters with a roadmap for covering this public health epidemic with nuance and sensitivity.  

The next session will be offered virtually tomorrow, March 31.  

ournalists attending the symposium will also be eligible to apply for a reporting grant of $2,000 to $10,000 from the Domestic Violence Impact Reporting Fund.  

This project is supported by The California Endowment. Boom! 

Robert K. Ross, M.D., is president and chief executive officer for The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation established in 1996.  Most recently he has been invited to serve as Stanford University’s Distinguished Visiting Professor for the 2023 academic calendar. 

He and MRT are super tight!  


(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions expressed by Eric Preven are solely his and not the opinions of CityWatch)