Archive for May, 2010

Madrid

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I am spending a week in Madrid so my daughter, who is a grad student, can attend a conference on Arabic manuscripts from the Andalusian period of Spain. She goes to her meetings for interesting sessions and I hang around, or we go to fun things like the bullfight. There is a big festival this week. Normally, the bullfight is held on Sundays but this week it is every day.

Madrid has a Metro very similar to that in Paris. The city is very clean and the people are the only Europeans I have seen who really are indistinguishable from Americans. The only difference is that there is more smoking and almost no obese people. This is a lot like Paris and the people dress very well, more like New Yorkers or San Francisco in the days before the present decline of that city.

Sometimes, the Metro provides its own entertainment. This fellow was very good and had his routine all organized. As we left the Metro, he left our car and shifted to another car. He collected about 5 Euros in our car (one from me) so he probably did pretty well.

It is annoying that it loads slowly but that will take more work on compression.

Our hotel is a businessman’s hotel well located near the Prado, which I plan to visit today. Claire will be most of the day in her meeting.

Last evening (6 PM) we attended the bullfight and, while the toreros were middling quality, one Banderillero was outstanding.

Once again, these files load slowly. I’m still working on the format and may be able to compress more. MP4 will not play.

This fellow was terrific, in skill and guts. The woman next to Claire grabbed her arm in a death grip when he stumbled. Then he went right back and placed three sets of banderillas, each beautifully done.

This is a lovely city. I hope the coming financial troubles do not harm it.

More Madrid-

I am obviously having trouble getting the videos to play and I took my flip video camera this trip so all I have are videos.

Our wake-sleep cycles are really going to be screwed up when we get home. Her meetings ended yesterday so we spent today just wandering and shopping for family at home. We got Claire’s husband, Derek, a Boda bag, a real one that cost 45 Euros. There was one at the Plaza de Toros in a stall that was 50 Euros which we thought was outrageous but, obviously, it wasn’t.

I saw some shoes I liked at a shop near the Archeological Museum but I didn’t get them and couldn’t find them anywhere today. Some of the most popular brands of shoes here are Timberland and Rockport, which is a bit ironic as Spain is famous for shoes.

We got my grandson a complete soccer uniform for the Spanish team, which is in the World Cup. We got dolls for his two sisters. My daughter, Annie, got an official soccer jersey.

Today, Sunday, was a big day for the Plaza Mayor, where we had lunch each day in the same restaurant. I have video of that, too, but will have to solve my posting problems. There are lots of tables of men selling and trading stamps. This is a Sunday feature. Claire had lived in Spain a year and so had a lot more experience than I did in Madrid, although they lived in Grenada.

My house has been for sale for three months so, naturally, it sold while I was gone and we did some faxing and e-mailing plus a half dozen phone calls. Both of us have international packages on our cellphones, which can prove annoying when friends call at 3 AM having no idea I am 9 time zones away. The fellow who bought my boat called at 3 this morning to talk about how to rig the boat for racing today. Of course, he had no idea he woke me up.

UPDATED — KFI’s John & Ken At The Ayres Hotel

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

By Bradley J. Fikes

UPDATE: The trial was exhilarating. A shaky video, but representative of the atmosphere, is above, taken by yours truly.

Here’s another video, of John & Ken’s reaction to Tax Traitor Dave Cogdill’s calling those who voted against tax-raising Prop. 1A “special interests”.

And below is a video clip of the audience proclaiming Darrell Steinberg guilty of being a tax traitor.

The background: Republicans Mike Villines and Dave Cogdill, along with Democrats Karen Bass and Darrell Steinberg, were the top four leaders in the California Legislature last year, who supported a huge tax increase to balance the budget, while Californians were reeling from recession. KFI talk show hosts John Kobylt & Ken Chiampou held a mock trial for the “tax traitors,” on Tuesday. The trial, at the Ayres Hotel in Costa Mesa, was attended by about 200 people.

The impetus for the trial was their receipt of the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award from Caroline Kennedy, which they picked up Monday.

Since the Taxing Tetrarchy didn’t show up, they were represented by blow-up dolls, dressed accordingly, and all stuffed with money. After a trial of a little more than an hour, including audio playbacks of vows not to raise taxes, and tax victim impact statements, the four were unceremoniously stripped of their clothes (and Bass-Doll of her wig), and dumped into the pool outside.

—————————————————————————————

Hyperkinetic truth-tellers John Kobylt & Ken Chiampou are hosting their take-no-prisonersKFI talk show today at the Ayres Hotel in Costa Mesa. I’m here, as it’s too good an entertainment meal to pass up. The show begins a little less than 90 minutes from when I’m writing this.

The appetizer is served at 2 p.m. with a healthy exchange of views with Republican senatorial candidates Carly “Demon Sheep” Fiorina, Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore.

The main course is two hours of John & Ken’s merciless skewering of pompous liars, thieving con-artists and moronic media types.

The dessert begins at 5 p.m. with John & Ken’s “Trial of the Tax Traitors,” those scoundrels who voted to raise California taxes last year, hurting the recession-suffering state. On Monday they got a “Profile in Courage” award from Caroline Kennedy.

John and Ken say they will wear robes & wigs and wield gavels as they judge the tax traitors. Listen to one of them, Republican Mike Villines, repeatedly deny to John & Ken that he would vote to raise taxes.

THE VERDICT: Tax Traitors Mike Villines, Dave Cogdill (Republicans) and Karen Bass and Darrell Steinberg (Democrats), or reasonable facsimilies thereof, have been duly convicted and punished.

DISCLAIMER: This is the personal opinion of Bradley J. Fikes, and does not necessarily reflect the views of his employer, the North County Times.

San Diego Council Didn’t Vote To Boycott Arizona

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

By Bradley J. Fikes

On May 3, the San Diego City Council passed a resolution condemning Arizona’s new illegal immigration law and asking for its repeal. Shortly thereafter, news stories and blog posts popped up falsely stating that San Diego had joined a boycott of Arizona.

Based on these erroneous reports, Brett Scott, of Gilbert, Arizona, began a list of cities to reverse-boycott, with San Diego first on the list. Scott has now taken San Diego off the list, after learning from me that the city council didn’t actually call for a boycott. Here’s my story on it.

San Diego reverse boycott dropped - Click to read clarification

San Diego reverse boycott dropped - Click to read clarification

Scott was properly mortified, and explained to me that he saw a vast difference between criticizing the law and a boycott. It’s only the latter that makes him want to fight back with a reverse boycott. He said to me:

“The site was put there simply to take those people who have declared economic war against Arizona, and say, if you’re going to be that way, and attack Arizona economically, then we’re going to respond. In other words, right back at you. If someone disagrees with us, then we’re back in the world of debate. And that is what this country’s all about, free speech and debate. So, whereas I disagree with the council’s resolution — I think it’s none of their business — I completely support their right to say so, and even do so. I think it’s silly, but that’s well within their purview.”

I had inadvertently stumbled into a classic story of how bad journalism goes viral. Scott and people working with him had found multiple stories falsely stating that the San Diego City Council had voted to boycott Arizona. He trusted the reporters to get it right, especially since more than one of them said the same thing. Scott made it very clear to me that he only wanted to boycott those actually boycotting Arizona, not just those who opposed the law.

But the reporters simply didn’t check their information. I don’t know who was the first to say San Diego was boycotting, but I can make a pretty informed guess as to how it got started.

The story was originally told correctly by the San Diego Union-Tribune, other local media, and the Associated Press.

What actually happened

What actually happened

But because the story fit the template of a backlash against Arizona, reporters and bloggers elsewhere folded in the San Diego City Council’s condemnation into the larger picture. In the process, they failed to distinguish between a vote to condemn the law, and an actual economic boycott. So Brett Scott got fooled by sloppy media coverage.

The Union-Tribune’s record isn’t faultless. Unclear language in the lead of one story seemed to imply San Diego was boycotting Arizona.

San Diego tourism leaders and hoteliers fear they could lose a sizable chunk of business this summer from valued “Zonies” who are so angered by elected leaders’ recent censure of Arizona for its illegal-immigration law that they’re mounting an informal boycott of their own.

To be fair, the subhed for the story said the outrage may be a “misunderstanding,” and a bit more explanation was given deeper in the story. But casual readers (who are most readers) could easily have just looked at the lead, saw the word “boycott” and concluded that San Diego was part of the boycott. The word “informal” in front of boycott didn’t make that clear.

Four days later, a story on the Web site of WHBL radio in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, drew that erroneous conclusion from the Union-Tribune article.

WHBL says San Diego council boycotted Arizona

WHBL says San Diego council boycotted Arizona

The WHBL post stated:
San Diego Boycott of Arizona Backfires
Tuesday May 18, 2010 Posted 5 days, 13 hours ago by Kelly Meyer

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Arizona residents are giving the city of San Diego a taste of its own medicine for its city council’s decision to boycott Arizona over its illegal immigration law. . . .

So now tourism officials appear to be in panic mode, urging Arizonans to consider the resolutions as merely symbolic and local politics at work. . .

Perhaps the city of San Diego should’ve thought of the hardworking men and women of Arizona and the impact a boycott would have on their livelihoods before deciding to take the action they did.

So an unclear lead in the Union-Tribune morphed into a flatly false post at a radio station in Wisconsin. This illustrates that often, the further away from the epicenter of a news event, the more inaccurate the coverage becomes. Reporters copy each other, including each others’ mistakes. Due diligence would include going back to the San Diego City Council to find out exactly what they did, or at least reading the local news reports.

Over at Fox News, Judson Berger repeated the same falsehood.

“Boycotts work,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said last month when he announced his support for his city’s proposed ban on Arizona. The City Council passed the measure last week.

Other California cities, including San Diego and San Francisco, have gone the same route. The Seattle City Council approved a similar boycott Monday.

And here’s another Faux News (sorry, in this case it’s justified), story making the same false claim about a San Diego boycott.

False claim of San Diego City Council boycott of Arizona

False claim of San Diego City Council boycott of Arizona

The ‘threat’ to LA that wasn’t – more media botchery

By the way, Judson Berger also botched a description of an offer from an Arizona power commissioner to renegotiate contracts supplying Los Angeles with electricity. The letter from Gary Pierce was a “put up or shut up” offer — if you really want to boycott Arizona, we’d be happy to let you cancel those contracts.

Berger called Pierce’s letter a threat to unilaterally cut off power:

Noting that a quarter of Los Angeles’ electricity comes from Arizona power plants, Pierce threatened to pull the plug if the City Council does not reconsider.

Fox News falsely says AZ official threatens to cut off power

Fox News falsely says AZ official threatens to cut off power

The letter, which Berger’s article linked to, stated:

“If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation.”

So into Berger’s brain goes a statement from Pierce that he’d encourage utilities to “renegotiate” agreements — and out of it comes a story saying Pierce “threatened” to cut off power.

Shelby Grad at the LA Times wrote a similarly inaccurate blog post about Pierce’s letter.

Gary Pierce, a member of the Arizona Corporate Commission, sent a letter to L.A. officials Tuesday discussing the possibility that Arizona cut power to L.A. from generators in that state. It’s unclear whether Pierce’s suggestion has any support from other members of the commission — or whether such a cutoff is legally allowed.

LA Times Gets It Wrong

LA Times Gets It Wrong

The UK Guardian also distorted the story. As with most of the stories, the quotes from Pierce don’t match the claims.

Listen to a MP3 clip (1.5 MB) of a great rant by John Kobylt & Ken Chiampou about the wretchedly inaccurate local news coverage of Gary Pierce’s letter to LA, lightly edited for time and clarity. Unlike most of the reporters who wrote on this, they actually interviewed Gary Pierce — twice. The link to the full 8 MB MP3podcast where this is discussed is here. The rant begins about 20 minutes into the 36-minute podcast.

And here is a brief MP3 clip of Gary Pierce saying he can’t cut off power without LA’s consent. This is from the May 18 John & Ken Show. You can listen to the whole program, an 8 MB MP3 download, here. The segment starts at 9:00 of the 34-minute podcast.

Back to San Diego
Newsweek also screwed up the facts.

Earlier this week, student activists staged a sit-in at Sen. John McCain’s Tucson office to condemn his support of the law. City leaders (not all of them Latino) from San Diego to St. Paul, Minn., declared boycotts against Arizona.

Over at the Orange County Register, Jay Ambrose repeated the San Diego boycott falsehood.

Let’s boycott the boycotters. As a nation, let’s rise up and say, yes, at every opportunity we will vacation in and visit Arizona, we will order products from Arizona, we will do business with Arizona, but then say no: We will not set foot in or buy anything from San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Los Angeles, Austin, Boulder, Boston or any other city whose leaders announce a boycott of Arizona.

But it wasn’t just the national media. A local news source also egregiously screwed up. San Diego 6 wrote on May 19:

BERKELEY, Calif. — Berkeley has become the latest California city to join San Diego in boycotting Arizona in response to the state’s new law targeting illegal immigration.

The City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to restrict Berkeley city staff from traveling to the state on city business.

San Diego 6 Says San Diego Boycotts Arizona

San Diego 6 Says San Diego Boycotts Arizona

Interestingly enough, this turns out to be an Associated Press story, that didn’t mention San Diego when run elsewhere.

In the Mercury News, the lead said:

BERKELEY, Calif.—Berkeley has become the latest California city to boycott Arizona in response to the state’s new law targeting illegal immigration.

There is no mention of San Diego at all in this story. My guess is that some editor at San Diego 6 inserted the reference to San Diego to localize the AP story.

And the San Diego Reader ran a short article by stringer Ken Harrison inaccurately lumping in the San Diego City Council with the San Diego Unified School District as boycotting Arizona.

On May 17, a male caller to Chip Franklin’s morning show on AM 600 claimed that the Hotel del Coronado was losing reservations from Arizona residents unhappy with the City of San Diego and the San Diego Unified School District’s boycott of Arizona due to their new immigration law.

Of course, journalists will make mistakes. We’re only human, and of course I have often made mistakes. But this level of erroneous reporting, in which a major fact is repeatedly botched, should warn readers, reporters, and editors, that standards have fallen way too low.

Others repeating the bogus San Diego boycott claim include the Prescott (Arizona) Daily Courier. the Pasadena Star-News, Canada Free Press, the Daily Californian student newspaper and yet another erroneous story from Fox News.

DISCLAIMER: This post represents my own opinion, and not necessarily that of my employer, the North County Times.

Global Warming hits southern California

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

We have had lots of talk about global warming the past decade. Senators Kerry and Lieberman have introduced their Cap & Trade (tax) Bill in the Senate. I thought some of you might be interested in the latest local manifestation of “Climate Change.”

This is Lake Arrowhead Village at 10 AM, May 23. I have had weekend homes in the Lake Arrowhead area for 35 years. I have been planning to move up there for retirement. It is at about 5000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains, approximately an hour and 45 minutes from my home in south Orange County. The latest I have ever seen it snow was March 18.

Welcome to climate change.

Cash medical practice

Friday, May 21st, 2010

I am also blogging at Chicago Boyz and have a new post up there about the trend to cash practice. Rather than repost it here, I suggest you look over there for the post. That is a very interesting blog and I was flattered to be invited to be a member.

Dartmouth and health care reform

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I am a Dartmouth alum and received this message today. It is interesting but not my direction for reform, I suspect.

May 17, 2010

Dear Members of the Dartmouth Community,

Today we are announcing the creation of The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, supported by a spectacular commitment of $35 million from an anonymous donor. The donor believes that Dartmouth is uniquely positioned to lead the advancement of this critical field. More about this new enterprise is included in the following press release and at TDC.dartmouth.edu.

Provost Carol Folt and I expect we will identify other major initiatives that draw upon Dartmouth’s unique strengths as the strategic planning process continues.

This is an exciting moment for Dartmouth. This gift recognizes the excellent work of our faculty and the collaborative strength of this academic community. The gift also expresses the will of a generous donor to help us tackle one of the most challenging issues of our time.

Sincerely,

Jim Yong Kim
President, Dartmouth College

****************************************************************
Press Release
EMBARGO: FOR RELEASE AT 12:01 A.M. MONDAY, MAY 17, 2010

CONTACT: Roland Adams, (603) 646-3661

The Missing Piece in Health Care Reform: Health Care Delivery Science

Hanover, NH Dartmouth College has received a $35 million commitment to establish The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, President Jim Yong Kim announced today. The anonymous gift will advance a new field of study, harnessing the knowledge and expertise of faculty across multiple disciplines from the arts and sciences as well as from the medical, business and engineering schools.

Kim said the gift will speed Dartmouth’s work on the next stage of needed health care reform: “The passage of health reform was a historic event that will result in millions of Americans having access to our health care system. Health Care Delivery Science is about ensuring that the care they receive is the best it can be.”

“We know and this has been documented by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care that there are glaring variations in how medical resources are used in the U.S. More care and more expensive care do not guarantee high quality care,” Kim said. “What we need is a new field that brings the best minds from management, systems engineering, anthropology, sociology, the medical humanities, environmental science, economics, health services research, and medicine to focus on how we deliver the best quality care, in the best way, to patients nationally and globally. Those people are here at Dartmouth.”

Senators Judd Gregg, R-NH, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, applauded the new Center:

Senator Gregg noted that studies from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice “are constantly turned to by policymakers in Washington, especially as they relate to getting better health care at a more affordable cost. The establishment of this new Center will put the findings of Dartmouth researchers into practice and will further the Institute’s efforts to advance health care innovation, rein in health care costs, and provide quality care for people throughout the country.”

Said Senator Shaheen: “The formation of the Center for Health Care Delivery Science is great news. This will help Dartmouth remain on the cutting-edge of studying our health system and developing new practices to make health care delivery more efficient and cost effective. I look forward to working with and supporting President Kim and the Center in their efforts, especially as we implement new laws that will provide affordable health coverage to millions more Americans.”

In addition to integrating across the Arts and Sciences (undergraduate and graduate), the Tuck School of Business, the Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth Medical School, and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Health Care Delivery Science creates a unique partnership between the College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock, its affiliated academic health system. Dartmouth-Hitchcock will provide the base for innovation and implementation in clinical practice, said Co-Presidents James N. Weinstein and Nancy Formella.

Jim Weinstein was a classmate of mine in 1994-5 and is a really great fellow. He was offered a job at the end of the master’s program and has continued to move up the line, becoming Chief of Orthopedics, then Chief of the program. Not all of what this means is objectionable. The focus on quality of care, which drove me to Dartmouth instead of retirement, is valuable but has no support outside of theory and rhetoric. The people who are trying to transform health care have no interest in quality unless it costs less. That has always been the case in my experience with insurance or government.

“In the past decade, Dartmouth-Hitchcock has created a number of innovative models in clinical care, including the Spine Center, the first-in-the-nation Center for Shared Decision-Making, and the Comprehensive Breast Program,” Weinstein said. “This is a fantastic opportunity to build new partnerships within the College, and take advantage of President Kim’s experience in tackling the challenge of health care delivery in some of the most difficult settings in the world.”

One of the first initiatives will be a new Masters program in Health Care Delivery Science, offered jointly by The Dartmouth Institute and the Tuck School of Business. Traditional health care management courses have been built around general “best business” practices from a wide range of professions. The Dartmouth curriculum will be unique in its singular focus on discovery and analysis of innovations and real-time implementation in health care. Executive education and distance learning will be incorporated into the new degree program, scheduled to enroll its first class in July 2011. Undergraduate offerings in this field will be developed as well, Kim said.

Dartmouth Provost Carol L. Folt said: “Health care is now one-sixth of the U.S. economy, and arguably as important as any issue we face today. Our undergraduate students, whatever their career path, will be affected by its impact on our economy, national discourse, and of course, will experience health care first-hand as patients or family members of patients. We know that teaching political science, economics, sociology, philosophy, etc. to our students is critical to their liberal arts education. The opportunity to study health care and its impact on society in its broadest form will only enhance our ability to produce enlightened graduates and leaders.”

Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric and a Dartmouth trustee said: “As an employer of 300,000 people around the world and with $3 billion of our resources going into health care for our people each year, there are few issues more important to me and to GE than the quality and cost of health care. I’m proud of Dartmouth for taking this on, for applying expertise from across the College to the challenges, and for partnering so effectively with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system.”

The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science will focus on five areas with a goal of improving the quality, effectiveness, and value of health care for patients, their families, providers, and populations. Priorities will include:

Research:
* An expanded research agenda at Dartmouth and with partners around the country, building on the pioneering work of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, and focusing on high-impact aspects of health care delivery.
* An international research network that will bring together innovation centers to develop, study and disseminate best practices.
* A grant award program to encourage research in the field.
Education:
* A new curriculum in the delivery of health care to be incorporated into medical education at Dartmouth.
* A consortium of medical schools committed to integrating Health Care Delivery Science into their academic programs.
* Undergraduate courses, cross-disciplinary offerings through the Tuck School of Business, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth Medical School and the Arts and Sciences, and new distance and executive learning opportunities.
* A journal of health care delivery science, to advance dissemination, research, and learning.
Collaboration:
* Partnerships across a diversity of health care systems in the U.S. and beyond, to define best practices and integrate them into clinical practice.
* Joint efforts with academic institutions nationally and internationally to expand the new field of Health Care Delivery Science.
* Intellectual “lab” spaces for leaders in business, industry, government, academia, to create new synergies and pathways for innovation.
Implementation:
* Demonstration projects to provide proof of concept, e.g. The Spine Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Shared Decision-Making, and initiatives to improve population health.
* Development and deployment of measures that go beyond clinical outcomes, to evaluate quality and value of care, with patient-reported data and longitudinal tracking incorporated into enhanced Health Information Technology.
* On-the-ground teams and distance-teaching to facilitate adoption and integration of proven “best practices” in diverse clinical environments nationally and internationally.
Advocacy:
* New Communities of Practice nationally and internationally that demonstrate quality and value in health care.
* Advocacy for changes in policy at the federal and state levels and globally to promote and support new models of care.
* Comprehensive outreach across a range of audiences health care providers and systems, policymakers, consumers, and others to inform, educate, and engage.

Michael E. Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School and author of Redefining Health Care: Creating Value-Based Competition on Results, said: “For 30 years, researchers at Dartmouth have pioneered the measurement of performance variation in U.S. health care, and given us clear evidence of the serious value problem in health care delivery. This Center, with its multidisciplinary approach and unique partnership with a leading medical center, is poised to become a leader in advancing measurement and devising new delivery solutions. I look forward to working closely with the Center and its leaders.”

Kim said the anonymous donor chose Dartmouth as the place to lead in this area, based on the institution’s record of accomplishment in health systems research and implementation, its established graduate programs, history of collaboration and innovation across campus, and the investment the Trustees have already made in pursuing health reform through establishment of The Dartmouth Institute.

“This is a donor who believes deeply in the moral and economic imperatives of changing the way health care is provided in this country and throughout the world,” said Ed Haldeman, Chair of the College Board of Trustees.

“The donor also chose Dartmouth because of President Kim’s background and his ability to lead one of the great institutions of the world to mobilize its strengths and tackle one of the great challenges of our time. The Trustees and I fully expect that this is the first of a number of initiatives Dartmouth will launch in the coming years. This spring President Kim and Provost Folt are launching a strategic planning process that will identify other initiatives that build upon Dartmouth’s many strengths,” Haldeman said.

For more information about the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery
Science, please visit http://tdc.dartmouth.edu
************************

Temecula’s Great Oak Band Cancels Arizona Fiesta Bowl Trip — A Timeline

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

By Bradley J. Fikes
KFI talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou don’t just talk. They report. They’ve done in-depth reporting on the Arizona illegal immigration law. They’re openly advocates of the law, which puts them at odds with most of the media, such as the Los Angeles Times. (MP3 clip, 2:29)

I’m going to present here one aspect of their coverage of the law and the boycott against the state. After my description, I’m linking to MP3 audio clips from their show presenting highlights of how John & Ken tackled the story.

If you just want the audio clips, scroll way down.

Great Oak Band Letter-  screencap Sunday afternoon, May 16

Great Oak Band Letter- screencap Sunday afternoon, May 16

On May 4, John & Ken reported that “a high school in Temecula” (later identified as the Great Oak High School band) had canceled its trip to the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona as a protest against the law, according to Kristen Jarnagin, spokeswoman for the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association and Arizona Tourism Alliance. They interviewed Jarnagin while on location in Phoenix.

Jarnagin originally said “Temecula High School,” but when John questioned that, she amended it to “a high school in Temecula.” John and Ken vowed to find out the identify of that high school.

Here’s the exchange when this was first announced: (Click here for the audio, 40 seconds):
KRISTEN JARNAGIN: Today we actually got a cancellation out of Temecula High School. Today, a band that was going to come and march in the Fiesta Bowl parade. So they don’t get to come anymore.

CROSSTALK —-

JOHN KOBYLT: — Wait a minute –

KEN CHIAMPOU: John & Ken Show booms into Temecula! –

JOHN KOBYLT: Wait a second – Temecula High School?

JARNAGIN: It was a high school in Temecula –

JOHN KOBYLT: — A high school in Temecula . . . and are they not coming to Arizona at all?

JARNAGIN: Their kids don’t get to play in the Fiesta Bowl Parade now.

The exchange is on the John & Ken podcast for the 5:00 hour, available in MP3, beginning at the 30 minute mark. This is an 8 megabyte download. For the impatient, I have shorter audio clips in the timeline further down in this post.

Toward the end of the segment, John and Ken said again they would look into “this high school in Temecula.”

The next day, John & Ken re-interviewed Jarnagin to confirm that the cancellation was indeed because of the boycott, and not for any other reason. Jarnagin said her group only counts cancellations made specifically due to the boycott, and those taking the cancellations don’t inquire into the reason. Only if the group brings up the Arizona law on its own is the cancellation counted as part of the boycott.

John & Ken also said they had found out the high school involved was Great Oak High School. They also read an email from Melanie Norton, a Temecula Valley Unified School District spokeswoman, saying that the cancellation was for financial reasons, not a boycott. She also complained that their show’s listeners had bombarded all high schools in the district with phone calls.

However, John & Ken found the actual truth to be more complicated. The band indeed had trouble raising money, but they’ve amassed evidence suggesting that the band director, Jerry Burdick-Rutz, also spoke in opposition to the law. They’ve said they’ve received emails confirming this, and talked to people on the air who have said this. Others have told the talk show hosts on the air this was a strictly financial decision.

So how to discern the truth? The most obvious way would be to get Burdick-Rutz on the air to tell his side of the story. However, J&K say he’s not agreed.

Another way to find out would be to offer to raise money so the band could make its trip, and see if the school district bites. The duo said they’d rally KFI listeners to donate enough so that the students could go.

However, John & Ken say they’ve received conflicting responses from various school officials.

– On Friday, May 7, John & Ken said they had received a tentative sign of interest from the school district for help with the fundraising.

– But the next Monday, May 10, they said the school district turned down the offer, because the band was going to save money by going to local competitions.

– Still later, the school district said the band had decided to eschew the Fiesta Bowl because it wanted to save money to appear in London at the Olympics, in 2012.

The North County Times turned up independent evidence confirming that the Arizona law was a factor, a letter on the band’s Web site saying the Arizona law created security issues.

On Wednesday, May 12, Temecula Mayor Jeff Comerchero appeared on the John & Ken show to talk about the situation. He said school administration officials assured him that they want to go to the Fiesta Bowl competition, if the money could be raised. Comerchero said he and his four colleagues would chip in $10,000 from a discretionary city fund.

John & Ken also read various emails, including one a listener said was forwarded from the band director’s wife, Carrie Burdick-Rutz, giving a hard to believe reason for canceling the Fiesta Bowl trip (MP3, 23 seconds). Here’s the transcript of the clip:

KEN: She heard back from Carrie Burdick-Rutz, who said, “Maybe there are some other factors which John & Ken have not cared to look into. The band just returned from our national DC Memorial Day parade, 2009 . . .”

JOHN: They just got back?

KEN: I don’t know what that means.

JOHN: That’s almost a year ago!

KEN: “. . . Which cost each member nearly $2,000 to attend.” Yeah, that was about a year ago.

JOHN: They just got back? That’s a slow plane!

That’s the story up until last week.

There’s a grain of salt you have to take with some of John & Ken’s reportage, because it includes people who aren’t fully identified, such as parents and band members. I’d like to see reporters track down these people, and get them fully on the record.

Now here are some audio clips from the John & Ken show where you can hear for yourself how the story evolves. For your listening ease, I’ve kept most of them to no more than 6 minutes; some are much shorter.

—————————
TIMELINE WITH MP3 AUDIO CLIPS

MAY 4
Kristen Jarnagin says a high school in Temecula boycotted Fiesta Bowl (40 seconds)

Lengthier clip of Kristen Jarnagin explaining boycott (5:45)

John & Ken vow to investigate “this high school in Temecula” (7 seconds)

MAY 5
John and Ken investigate, doubt school’s story (5:02)

Father of band member says cancellation was financial, not boycott (3:21)

Jarnagin repeats that cancellation was boycott (8:17)

Anthony, band parent, says it was just financial. (1:46)

Great Oaks staff member says it was just financial (2:28)

Another caller says it was just financial (0:45)

J & K read from what they say is a student email that it was boycott-related (1:15)

J&K discuss crediblity of boycott claims (5:45)

MAY 7
Why J&K think student email is true (1:17)

J&K say they’ll raise money to help send band to Fiesta Bowl (4:04)

Mother of former band members says cancellation was political (2:12)

Temecula school district ponders offer (0:34)

MAY 10
School district says band wants to go to 2012 London Olympics (0:35)

Another email says band cancellation was political (0:58)

Letter on band site mentions Arizona law as safety issue (3:55)

Dueling Explanations (1:05)

Will juniors and seniors raise money so sophs and freshmen can go to London? (0:17)

MAY 12
Email about the role of Burdick-Rutz’ wife, Carrie Burdick-Rutz. (2:22)

Temecula mayor Jeff Comerchero says district wants band to go to Fiesta Bowl Part 1 (3:32)

Temecula Mayor Jeff Comerchero, Part 2 (3:08)

DISCLAIMER: This post represents my own opinion, and not necessarily that of my employer, the North County Times.

California needs this guy.

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

I fear we will get another do-gooder as governor. Meg Whitman could probably do it but politics is not the same as business. Harry Truman cracked that he felt sorry for Eisenhower after Ike had been elected in 1952. Truman said, “Poor Ike. He thinks that he will say ‘do this’ and somebody will actually do it. He has no idea about politics.” In fact, Ike was a much better president than he has been given credit for. He made it look too easy.

Gov Christie calls S-L columnist thin-skinned for inquiring about his 'confrontational tone'

Now, we have another model. I wish we had him here.

I Heart The John & Ken Show

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Bradley J. Fikes

KFI talk radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou represent everything the mainstream media hate about the medium: They’re sensational, over-the-top, ruthlessly disrespectful of politically correct conventions.

But the worst sin of all is that J&K relentlessly expose the MSM’s failings, lies and bias. And judging from the show, they’re having a lot of fun doing it. That’s unacceptable to the humorless MSM scolds, who can only wish they had the duo’s audience, which they say is about 1 million listeners.

The John & Ken Show, KFI 640 AM

The John & Ken Show, KFI 640 AM

Rising taxes, the clownish ineptness of state and local government and bureaucratic follies, along with California’s overreaching global warming drive, give John and Ken plenty of fodder. Their “heads on a stick” campaign, launched last year, drew the requisite tut-tutting and distortion from the Miss Manners types at the Los Angeles Times.

And in recent weeks, they’d had a field day with the often-overwrought attacks on Arizona’s illegal immigration law.

As a card-carrying member of the MSM, I might be expected to take umbrage of John & Ken’s dissing of most of the media as lazy, biased fools and jackasses. And I would be, if what they said wasn’t most often true and needed to be said. Talk radio lends itself to public participation in a way that the stuffy media despises and envies.

John & Ken can also dig up stories, such as those they’re now doing on the Arizona illegal immigration law and boycott that most media outlets don’t do well.

Disclosure: John & Ken in recent weeks have had some harsh words for my employer, the North County Times, due to a story we ran on the Arizona law they disagreed with. However, it’s not personal. They’re simply holding the media’s feet to the fire, which is part of how a free press works. They’re on the side of the public, especially the taxpayers. Journalists should take note.

Here are two worthwhile recent quotes about how John & Ken view the media business, and its failings:

“Everybody in public life lies now, and you never get the true story. And most journalists have given up on the phrase, ‘Prove that’ to people in the news. They just write down whatever the person says, and they go home.”
– John Kobylt

“We have the unique position where we don’t have to spend all our time calling people and not getting answers, when we can just say, ‘Hey, who knows stuff out there?’ People email us, and then we judge the credibility.”
– John Kobylt

And here’s a treat, a collection of some of the most quotable quotes from the government-fighting duo. (MP3, 1.5 megabytes). But if sometimes salty language makes you look for the fainting couch, beware.

Disclaimer: This post represents my opinion, and not necessarily that of my employer, the North County Times.

Jobs

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

There is a lot of discussion about jobs and the economy lately. This week the Labor Department announced that jobs growth had increased.

The American economy added 290,000 jobs in April — the most in four years or so. At the same time, the jobless rate grew to 9.9 percent, after hanging at 9.7 percent for three consecutive months.

The latter figure was explained as discouraged workers returning to the job market. Maybe so. A lot of those jobs were temporary census jobs.

There is also a theory that the lost jobs may never come back.

More on that here.

Three industries, in particular, where many jobs may not be coming back are retailing, manufacturing and advertising.

Retailers have lost 1.2 million, or 7.5 percent, of jobs that existed before the recession, according to Labor Department data. Circuit City and Linens & Things have collapsed. Starbucks closed nearly 800 U.S. stores. Robert Yerex, an economist at Kronos, a work force management company, estimates 20 percent of those jobs are never coming back.

Manufacturing has shed 2.1 million jobs, or 16 percent of its total, since the recession began. Goodyear Tire & Rubber and Boeing Co. laid off a combined 15,700 people during the recession. General Motors eliminated 65,000 through buyouts and layoffs. And as Americans buy fewer cars and homes, more than 1 million jobs in the auto, steel, furniture and other manufacturing industries won’t return, according to estimates by Moody’s Analytics.

Advertising and PR agencies have lost 65,000 jobs, or about 14 percent of the pre-recession total. Moody’s Analytics estimates those industries will lose even more within five years.

Those are white collar jobs, except manufacturing, which has been losing jobs for years. Ironically, Boeing workers are threatening a strike and the Obama administration has changed the Railway Labor Act to encourage unions to organize Delta Airlines.

Under an interpretation of the Railway Labor Act dating to 1934, aviation and rail workers who don’t vote on whether to form a union have been counted as “no” votes. That means a union could not be approved without a full majority of employees voting yes.

Under the National Labor Relations Act governing the vast majority of private-sector workers, a union can be created if a majority of the votes cast are in favor of collective bargaining. In such elections, nonvotes don’t count.

The rule change by the NMB mandates that unionization votes for air and rail workers be tallied in the same manner as in other industries.

Now, if 5% of employees vote in a union election, the rest may be forced to join or pay dues to the union. That should help jobs !

It’s hard to exaggerate how bad the job market is. Here’s one arresting fact: One of every five men 25 to 54 isn’t working.

Even more alarming, the jobs that many of these men, or those like them, once had in construction, factories and offices aren’t coming back. “A good guess…is that when the economy recovers five years from now, one in six men who are 25 to 54 will not be working,” Lawrence Summers, the president’s economic adviser, said the other day.

Is this true ? Are poorly educated men facing permanent unemployment ? The jobs picture had some dark spots as the overall unemployment rate climbed.

Reflecting the modest nature of this recovery, the report included some negative notes. The overall jobless rate, including people who have stopped looking, jumped to 17.1%, which is the highest rate this year. More disturbing, the share of those out of work for 27 weeks or more reached another record of 45.9%. This means that some 6.7 million Americans have spent more than half a year without maintaining the skills and contacts they’ll need to compete across a lifetime.

This is a worry. Government employees have not seen layoffs yet although they will be coming in California soon. The private sector is reeling.

Demand for workers who haven’t much education—which includes many men, particularly minority-group men—is waning. A shrinking fraction of them are working. Some are looking for work; some have given up. Some are collecting disability benefits or an early-retirement pension. Some are just idle. On average, surveys find, the unemployed in the U.S. spend 40 minutes a day looking for work and 3 hours and 20 minutes a day watching TV.

One of every five men between ages 25 and 54 isn’t working, and jobs once available for men in construction and factories continue to dry up in the U.S.

For 50 years, the fraction of men with jobs in what once were prime earning years has been trending down. Over the same decades, the share of women who work has been rising, a significant social change that lately has cushioned the blow of Dad’s unemployment for many couples.

Women have suffered less in this recession. They were more likely to be in health care and other jobs that weren’t hit as hard as construction and manufacturing. They are increasingly likely to have the education so often required to get or keep a good job these days.

I think this is too pessimistic and I also think the value of a college education has drastically declined in the past 30 years. I have talked to small businessmen and small business is the source of most jobs for men since heavy industry, like the auto companies, has contracted. Many of these small businesses are busy and their employees are working full time. What is the difference ? A lot of the men I know who are working have skills with tools. A lot of the long term unemployed have limited skills other than the work they were doing, like residential loan processing, that isn’t coming back.

My neighbor runs a flooring business out of his home. That is technically against some city code or other but he is a good guy and I don’t care. I run a small (very small) consulting business out of my home. He has a big truck loaded with carpet in front of his house most days. He does a lot of theater work so they work at night a lot. He has a bunch of young men working for him, all US natives, and they work hard. The hardest thing a small business employee says about new hires is seeing them arrive on time Monday morning. A lot of American kids have not learned a work ethic. The illegal aliens often work harder.

I had my house painted two months ago. The guys who own the painting business are Asian but their employees are Hispanic. They did a good job and worked quickly. Some of the painters spoke good English and some didn’t. I also had some guys from a pest control company check my home for termites and they found a number of areas of dry rot. There are also termites in my attic and I will have the house tented when it is sold, as it is for sale. The fixed the dry rot, including replacing a window, and did a great job at a reasonable price. The guys told me they were all construction workers who had gone to work for the pest control company and they did good work; very good work.

The one thing that Obama and his administration can do to help jobs is to aid small business. Since they appear to be doing the opposite, I don’t expect much but I do see people working. Maybe they aren’t making the money that the Ford assembly line workers make but there are a lot fewer jobs like that. I deal with plumbers, like Joe the Plumber, and with electricians. They are working. Restaurants are in trouble but I was in one last night for a Mother’s Day dinner with the family and it was very busy. Maybe weeknights are slow. I see retail stores going out of business and I fear a lot of them won’t come back in my lifetime. Those, however, are not men’s jobs. My college student daughter got a restaurant job a couple of months ago but the business is slow and she is only getting three days a week work. She is looking for another job and can work her class schedule around if given enough lead time.

There’s an amusing piece on the Daily Beast on “Prostitute Moms”. Now there’s a job men can’t do. Of course there is a male equivalent.

After getting a women’s studies degree, Isabel entered the sex industry as a 24-year-old high-end escort, three years after her mother had died. Before she passed away, she told Isabel, “You own the means of production, you can be anything.” It’s unclear how she would have reacted had she lived to see Isabel working as an escort.
“When I got burned out from doing sex work, I drove a city bus for three years,” Isabel says. “They took my picture—I was the young female driver with a red streak in her hair—and made me the poster child for the union.” Isabel is also a trained clown (“I studied the Pachenko method”), a health practitioner, and an organic farmer.

Now, is there any doubt about the value of a college degree ?