As you might know, I didn't grow up around here. I just kind of stumbled upon this town due to a relocation brought about by a promotion at work. I am originally from the New York City side of New Jersey. My dad owned several weekly newspapers there, and I grew up in a kind of local newsie environment. Area dignitaries came to visit the house, usually around election time, and there was a sense that we were at the center of things.
It was a fine life, much better than I knew at the time. I never had to sleep in the back seat of a car, and the meals were always served at their appropriate times. I'm not sure anyone really has the right to ask much more of their parents. Everything else is a gift.
As far as the dailies went, there were two distinct classes of newspaper readers in the greater New York metropolitan area. There were New York Times readers, and those who preferred the two tabloids, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. As a lad I had pretensions to a loftier view of life, and read The Times. In my opinion this was where you could view the world through the eyes of true sophistication, and that no educated person would ever want to spend a moment of their valuable time with either of the tabloids. So-called newspapers that only focused crime, scandal and the grim consequences of lives poorly led. The kinds of topics that only those incapable of finer thought would want to obsess over every morning.
Unfortunately my grandfather, who as a Doctor actually was a highly educated person, did not share my viewpoint. The only paper that interested him was the Daily News. This perplexed me, and I would ask him once in a while how someone of his accomplishments wouldn't want to read The Times. His answer would usually be the same. The New York Times is how people wish life could be, whereas the New York Daily News is what life is really like.
More than four decades later I have come to realize that he probably was right.
My Tabloid News Story: "Crash Landing"
Early Tuesday morning I was sitting on an Alaska Airlines plane at Burbank Airport. And it was delayed. Something that didn't make me happy because I had meetings set up that day in Seattle. I was hooking up with people from New York there as well, including my boss, and who knows what would happen to them if I wasn't there to get them safely to our first presentation.
At first the Alaska Airlines people told us that the reason our takeoff had been delayed was because they were waiting for a late passenger. Which seemed odd to those of us back in the main cabin. When did an airline ever delay a flight because some guy was late? It must be someone with some real juice in this world, and a few passengers began speculating about who this VIP might be.
About a half of an hour into our wait the story changed. It wasn't a late passenger that was holding things up. The person they were waiting for was the flight Captain. The guy who was supposed to fly the plane, and as such an essential person in that day's enterprise. They had no idea where this guy was either, and he wasn't answering calls to his cell phone. The airline had even sent someone to his hotel room to see if he was OK, but nobody was home. His luggage and effects were all there, but no pilot.
The delayed passengers in the main cabin, and even in 1st Class, were not amused. At least not at first. Soon, however, stories about "Captain Whoopie" began to make the rounds, with even the flight attendants getting in on the jokes. Most thought he was probably sleeping one off somewhere, and was certainly going to hear it from his employers once they finally located him.
Eventually the Alaska folks woke up a pilot who had landed around 10 o'clock the night before, rushed him to the airport, and we finally took off an hour and a half late. But the story didn't end there.
On Wednesday it was with great interest that I read the following story on the Pasadena Star News website (click here):
Body of Alaska Airlines pilot found near 5 freeway in Burbank: The body of an Alaska Airlines pilot has been found on a Southern California freeway off-ramp. The Los Angeles County coroner's office says 55-year-old Clifford Morris of Richland, Wash., was found Tuesday night in Burbank. A cause of death hasn't been determined.
KNBC says the body appeared to have been dumped near the Scott Road off-ramp of Interstate 5 near Bob Hope Airport. Burbank police officers responding to a man-down call just before 6 p.m. found the body. Police say it is being investigated as a suspicious death.
ABC "Eyewitless" News has been repeatedly showing pictures of this guy with his kid. Not a good look, or a very pretty way to go.
Another city gets ready to fire its Police Department
From the San Gabriel Valley Tribune (click here):
Baldwin Park inches closer to disbanding police department, contracting with sheriff: The city inched closer Wednesday to disbanding its police department and contracting with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, after a fiery debate and a narrow vote by the City Council.
A preliminary study released Wednesday revealed that a contract with the Sheriff's Department could result in an annual savings of more than $4.5 million and a 40 percent increase in sworn officers who would work out of the city's current department facility.
Mayor Manual Lozano and and councilmembers Monica Garcia and Martin Garcia determined the cost was worth it, backing the 3-23 decision. "For one, it's important because of the fact that we're looking at the economy long term. I'm not willing to place the city of Baldwin Park in a position where it could potentially look like the city of San Bernardino," Lozano said. "That's unacceptable."
Forty-two of 88 Los Angeles County cities currently contract with the Sheriff's Department.
In the end it will be this City's worsening financial condition and crumbling infrastructure that will determine whether or not we keep the Sierra Madre Police Department. And should the renewal of the UUT go down in flames once again in the 2014 election, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department will be just about our only choice left.