Circling Back

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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed on KCRW.

One of the complaints people have about the media is that stories that fill the airwaves for one or two news cycles are too often just dropped.

What's important one day is forgotten the next. It drives a lot of people a little crazy, me included.

I'm a big believer in follow up, so this week on my first anniversary in this time slot I'll circle back to revisit some of the subjects we've talked about before.

On Tuesday, for example, the voters in California rejected Proposition 98. That was the attack on rent control disguised as something more popular.

Backers claimed the measure was about stopping the government from condemning property. Just about two-thirds of the electorate saw through the ruse and voted no.

Score one for the cause of honest politics.

Here in Los Angeles County, only sixteen percent of those who were eligible bothered to cast ballots.

There wasn't enough of interest going on to lure people to the polls. Or, more commonly these days, to get them to drop a ballot in the mail.

But there was one important battle going on that I've mentioned here. That was the showdown between LA City Councilman Bernard Parks and State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas over a rare open seat on the county Board of Supervisors.

Well, even after labor spent $4 million trying to buy the seat for Ridley-Thomas, the question was left unsettled.

Ridley-Thomas finished on top Tuesday, but he didn't get a clear majority. So they will do it all again in November.

I expect an unusually bitter war that will divide friends --- and almost certainly become the most expensive county political campaign ever paid for by special interests.

Another name that has been mentioned here also roared back into the local news this week.

Sam Zell, the new owner of the L.A. Times, admitted to financial analysts that his assumptions about the newspaper business were mostly wrong.

The numbers have gone south, and the Times will have to down-scale --- yet again.

That means many fewer pages of news each day. And probably a less deep approach to covering the world and the city, once all the expected layoffs are completed.

Staffers at the Times' Sunday magazine already have been told to look for other jobs at the paper.

Based on the email I receive at LA, many of the best journalists at the Times are dusting off their exit strategies.

This week alone, the editor of the editorial pages decided to leave the newspaper business to write books. Another respected newsroom veteran quit to go into the crisis PR game.

A fairly senior editor left the Business section to work for Bloomberg News. And the editor in charge of foreign coverage stepped down to return to writing.

This all follows by just a couple of months the last round of departures.

An editor who left then, Joel Sappell, wrote in a journalism magazine this week that he and other newsroom leaders had high hopes when Zell took over the Tribune Company last year.

Since then, Zell has said and done some really stupid things and driven off several of the best and brightest.

Sappell wrote that after 26 years he had come to believe that the Los Angeles Times – his dream job -- is clearly in decline. So it was time for him to go try something else.

Meanwhile, the publisher –- a holdover from the pre-Zell days named David Hillergot to live out his dream last night at Dodger Stadium.

Hiller loves a good song and has been heard breaking out in show tunes around the office. Before the game with the Cubs, he sang the national anthem.

I haven't heard what kind of reception he got. But in his newsroom, I suspect nobody was cheering.

For KCRW this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.