Thursday, September 27, 2012

Who is exposing the underbellies of school systems, U-T San Diego or Voice of San Diego?

My challenge to Will Carless at VOSD and Jeff McDonald at U-T San Diego: Why don't you find out the truth about what's going on at SDCOE?

Now that Will Carless has replaced Emily Alpert at VOSD, why doesn't he conduct a "Crosier Watch" similar to the "Petty Watch" he conducted in 2008?

Over the past few years, only a few limited stories about the tactics of education attorneys have crept into the press. Reporters have to beg and plead and practically stand on their heads to get their stories published. Voice of San Diego dropped its coverage of SDCOE attorney shenanigans, and laid-off its stellar education reporter Emily Alpert. CEO Scott Lewis claimed that he didn't have enough money to pay her.

But that explanation doesn't hold water.

Voice of San Diego benefactors Buzz Woolley and Irwin Jacobs, who claim to care about education, could have easily paid Emily's salary with their pocket change if they'd wanted her to stay. And I suspect she would have wanted to stay if her job description had been made more appealing, which would have included being allowed to publish her stories freely. At one time she must have hoped that all her work would result in some changes for children in schools.

It seems Buzz Woolley, Irwin Jacobs and Emily Alpert weren't on the same page.

I recently discovered (in a story by Jeff McDonald at the U-T) that SDCOE executive Dan Puplava, whom Emily had started investigating, was fined $7000 and had his brokers license suspended while AIG Financial, which was paying Puplava big bucks for moonlighting with them, was fined $300,000 for not properly overseeing him. Still, Puplava retains his job as head of the SDCOE Fringe Benefits Consortium.

Voice of San Diego never even placed a link in its Morning Report to the U-T San Diego story.

To its credit, VOSD's Will Carless is doing a great job investigating a school bond scam in Poway pulled off by board members and their lawyers.

But if VOSD had been willing to aggressively investigate education attorneys, the Poway Capital Appreciation Bonds scandal might have been prevented. Of course, the downside of that for VOSD would be that it wouldn't have an exciting school bond story to write about.

It seems that journalists are a bit like Plaintiff lawyers: they actually benefit from corruption and wrongdoing because investigation it gets them money and fame.

All along, of course, the school attorneys are making work for themselves by advising school boards to ignore the law.

But the public doesn't hear much about this.

In fact, even private bloggers like me and Scott Dauenhaur get sued by SDCOE lawyer Dan Shinoff for defamation on behalf of himself and his pals at SDCOE. SDCOE should stop tax dollars to stop public discussion of school attorney tactics, but it won't.

Shockingly, it seems that U-T San Diego's Jeff McDonald is more willing to expose SDCOE than Voice of San Diego is. As a member of Voice of San Diego, I never thought I'd be forced to confess that we need the U-T in order to get balanced news reporting in San Diego. I never thought Doug Manchester's rag would sometimes do a better job on education than Buzz Woolley and Irwin Jacobs.

The U-T freely admits that it is using the paper to influence voters and officials. You know you're reading a biased paper when you read the U-T. The Union-Tribune has been killing important stories for years.

The problem with VOSD is that the bias is in the censorship--you don't know which stories they killed because donors didn't like them. Except, of course, in cases where VOSD started a story--and then killed it.

Democrats are not invited to U-T San Diego's "One-Stop Shop" main event for candidates

No Democrats were invited to big event for U-T San Diego.

U-T San Diego’s one-stop-shop flop
GOP gets paper’s CEO and Hedgecock; Dems don’t
By John R. Lamb
City Beat
Sep 26, 2012

U-T San Diego editor Jeff Light told the four people who attended the second leg of the conservative paper’s “One-Stop Shop for Candidates” event two weeks ago that they were kept separate from the local GOP version “to keep the peace.”

Spin Cycle has no idea if Light was joking, but he needn’t have worried, for the Mission Valley headquarters of hotelier/developer Doug Manchester’s spreading media empire remained standing the next day.

Billed as two “exciting evenings” to showcase the U-T’s sputtering evolution into an “innovative new media company” and provide insight into “how to get noticed by the press” and “how does one get endorsed,” the differences and similarities between the Sept. 11 and Sept. 13 productions were indicative of the company’s political underpinnings.

The most notable difference was in who showed up, according to accounts of the proceedings provided to Spin Cycle. Although invitations for both events proclaimed that U-T Vice Chairman and CEO John Lynch would make “introductory remarks,” he bothered to do so only for the 50 or so conservative brothers and a handful of sisters at the Sept. 11 Republican gathering.

Of course, it was that day that the Lynch / Manchester duo had lifted its leg on the U-T’s latest conquest, the Escondido-based North County Times, whose acquisition by Manchester is set to conclude Oct. 1.

Mention of that to the GOP choir packed in the U-T’s Manchester Boardroom that night drew hoots and applause, which seemed to fire up the jock in Lynch.

“I think that allows such incredible opportunity. My kids went to school in North County, and they’ve always had an incredible heritage of fabulous prep sports and family coverage up there,” Lynch told the Republican crowd. “We can really make an impact because the North County is about who we are.”

He hinted at undetermined “plans” of “joining the papers together” and of future conquests—Manchester is rumored to be interested in snapping up the Chicago-based, bankruptcy-mired Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times—“to really create a great business with this same type of model across the country.

If that isn’t enough to make progressives and working journalists queasy, Lynch also described his vision of changing “the political landscape in each community in terms of really supporting the values that we stand for, and that’s loving our country and loving America again,” as if somehow the Manchester / Lynch team has a lock on that market, too.

Lynch referred to local GOP honcho and “retired” video-game hacker Tony Krvaric, sitting in the audience, as a “terrific friend and partner” and lauded the fluffy profile of him that ran recently in the U-T as the kind of “good news” about “people who make a difference in our community” that Manchester—who did not attend either event—wants to provide.

Krvaric stumbled through a few laudatory sentences about “Papa Doug” (Disclosure: Spin Cycle has decided to no longer use the self-appointed paternal moniker that Manchester insists on, citing the ridiculousness of it) and bootlicked his “media powerhouse.”

“It takes a lot of guts,” the San Diego County Republican Party chairman gushed. “You are the ultimate risk takers…. There are some people that will try to take risk out of the system, which means you take opportunity out of the system. Then we’re all going to be equally miserable just like in Europe.”

Lynch said the “nationwide” coverage of the U-T’s growth plans—mostly negative—“mystifies” him. “I keep saying, ‘I’m such a nice guy!’ How could they say that?” he said to an eruption of laughter. He then turned the floor over to Mike Hodges, the man charged with turning the U-T into a multimedia dynamo of dominance. Lynch heaped praise on Hodges before going all Darth Vader on him by saying, “You better damn well hit the numbers!”

“It always comes back to the numbers, right, John?” Hodges nervously responded.

Hodges boasted about the emergence of UT-TV, the laugh-track of a television station that features, as one attendee noted, “silicon-laden blondes” who are challenged to speak in whole sentences.

Despite the newsroom and editorial staffs having been decimated by layoffs—opinion “director” Bill Osborne even noted with disdain that the once-robust 14-member editorial board has been slashed to four, with only two writers, making endorsements for the third-tier candidates who made up the majority of attendees difficult—UT-TV staffing has grown to 60, said the star of the Republican evening, loose conservative cannon Roger Hedgecock...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The media rates readers! Voice of San Diego news quiz winners

Link: Voice of San Diego

VOSD News Quiz The results are in for last week's VOSD News Quiz and we're quite impressed. Two members received perfect scores.

First place: Lee Swanson and David Gatzke win $500 vouchers for Co-Merge Workplace

Second place: Jo Brooks and Judy Radke win Voice of San Diego Photo Books

Third place: Bill Bradshaw, Pat Seabord, Dennis Doyle, David Inmon and Chris Metcalf win NEW VOSD T-shirts

Friday, September 14, 2012

Did Channel 10 News "track down" the wrong people for its misleading story about John McCann's "patriotism"?

10News and Sweetwater's John McCann, True Patriots?
By Susan Luzzaro
Sept. 13, 2012

Many people believe a 10News report broadcast at 5 p.m. on September 12 deliberately misinformed the public.

On September 10, the Sweetwater Union High School District held a special meeting with an ambiguous agenda that suggested controversial interim superintendent Ed Brand would be awarded a contract. After several hours of deliberation, the board had nothing to report to the public.

Approximately 20 speakers addressed the board prior to the special closed-session meeting. When Kathleen Cheers, a community advocate, gave her speech to the board, she pointed out that the trustees had forgotten to do the pledge of allegiance. About 15 minutes later, board member John McCann requested a pledge of allegiance. The audience laughed.

“They were laughing at Mr. McCann’s opportunism,” said Cheers in a September 12 interview. 10News quoted Stewart Payne, a member of Occupy Sweetwater, explaining the laughter as well: "The moans and groans you hear aren't about the Pledge of Allegiance. They're about John McCann making it about himself again.”

Nevertheless, 10News told the story differently. “Disrespectful laughter at the flag and victims of 9/11,” said news anchor Kim Hunt, leading into the story. “10News has obtained an audio recording of a recent local school board meeting where the crowd appears to laugh at a request to say the pledge and a moment of silence for 9/11…. Joe Little tracked down the people in the audience to get their take on the audiotape,” said Hunt, perhaps inadvertently suggesting the tape’s provenance was dubious.

The newscast included a four-second audio clip of McCann’s request being met by laughter. Before introducing the sound bite, 10News reporter Joe Little told the TV audience, “During the meeting, trustee John McCann realized the board forgot to say the pledge of allegiance.” Joe Little was not in attendance at the meeting.

Whether or not 10News had a recording of the entire meeting — including Cheers’s comment about the pledge being forgotten prior to McCann’s request for the pledge — is unknown.

Payne, a Sweetwater parent and one of the five people who took corruption charges to the district attorney’s office, sent the following message to Joe Little upon viewing the report: “I have watched the [10News] story of the board meeting held at SUHSD on Monday. While I feel the story was fairly reported, it is based on inaccurate and misleading information…”... Payne, who is one of those accused of disrespecting the flag, rarely speaks of his military career. He served 21 years in the Marines, was in three combat zones, and retired as a sergeant major. Following the 10News report, late on September 12, Sweetwater board member Bertha Lopez phoned Little, requesting that he retract his story due to the erroneous context presented. She emailed him today to follow up. As of late afternoon September 13, Little had not responded to Lopez’s messages or two phone calls left by this reporter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The man who calls himself Papa Doug now owns all of San Diego's major papers

The UT-San Diego yesterday denied that it had bought the North County Times, but today admitted that it had. This makes Voice of San Diego all the more important to San Diegans.

U-T Buys North County Times
September 11, 2012
Voice of San Diego

Developer and U-T San Diego owner Doug Manchester now owns two major daily newspapers in the San Diego region: The company jointly owned by Manchester and his partner, U-T CEO John Lynch, bought the North County Times for $11.95 million. Voice of San Diego reporter Rob Davis is on the story and has been tweeting about it this morning:

11 Sep 12
Rob Davis@robwdavis
NCT publisher confirms that, yes indeed, the sale is complete now. Today. For real...

11 Sep 12
Rob Davis@robwdavis
Yesterday's non-sale fiasco has the bad odor of a case of We Wanted to Control Our News So We Denied The Report...

11 Sep 12
Rob Davis@robwdavis
The man who calls himself Papa Doug now owns all of San Diego's major papers. Good time to reread my profile of him. [Click here.]

U-T San Diego to buy North County Times, Californian
September 11, 2012

U-T San Diego has agreed to purchase the North County Times from Lee Enterprises Inc., North County Times publisher Peter York said Tuesday. The price was $11.95 million.

The sale of the Times, including The Californian, its edition in Southwest Riverside County, had been rumored for some time. A story in the San Diego Business Journal on Monday said a sale had been completed...