Daily Business Report-April 7, 2016
Wendy Halloran and the KPNX 12 news team
Award-Winning Reporter Tapped
Into Her Tenacity at San Diego State
By Coleen l. Geraghty, SDSU NewsCenter
Ask Wendy Halloran to name her pet peeve, and she’d probably say injustice.
That could be her lineage talking. Halloran’s grandfather was Reno city attorney, district attorney in northern Nevada’s Washoe County and president of the State Bar of Nevada.
She was on a career path to that same profession as a criminal justice major at San Diego State University, but after graduating in 1991, Halloran took a slight turn. She completed the broadcast journalism program at the University of Nevada-Reno and decided to combat injustice as a television reporter.
“I’m passionate about the rights of victims, and I’m mindful of the role the media plays in the justice system,” said Halloran, currently a chief investigative reporter in Arizona.
In 2015, Halloran and a KPNX 12 news team in Phoenix won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for investigative journalism, among the most prestigious awards in the field of broadcast journalism.
Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism called Halloran’s work a “probing, relentless investigation into the Phoenix Fire Department’s arson squad.” In a series of reports compiled over two years and comprising interviews with dozens of officials and private citizens, Halloran found that the city unjustly prosecuted at least four innocent people as a result of the arson squad’s uncorroborated accusations against them.
Halloran successfully refuted claims that Phoenix had the highest rate of arson clearance of any major U.S. city fire department, claims mostly based on one dog handler’s assertion that his animal was infallible at arson detection. Her reporting also led to an FBI investigation of the department and a state police criminal investigation, which resulted in the recommendation of criminal charges against the discredited arson investigators. They were removed from the arson unit, and the fire chief resigned.
Since then, she’s reported several other consequential stories. One detailed how missteps by police in Tempe, Arizona, may have allowed an accused murder to remain free and allegedly commit a second (of which he was convicted after Halloran’s story).
A second investigative report describes incidents of student bullying by two faculty members at Scottsdale Community College — behavior that may have precipitated the student’s suicide days before graduation. Without admitting guilt, the college issued a degree to the student posthumously.
Halloran credits her SDSU experience with instilling in her the knowledge, persistence and grit to become an investigative reporter.
“It was a really robust education,” Halloran said. “We studied the entire criminal justice system and I also completed an internship with the Victims of Violent Crime Unit in the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office in Chula Vista. The degree was tough, and it prepared me for my career. I’ve been successful because of San Diego State.”
No Raise for San Diego Council Members and Mayor
By City News Service
San Diego City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to maintain their salaries, and that of the mayor, at current levels for the next two fiscal years.
The mayor will receive $100,464 a year through Fiscal Year 2018, while council members’ annual pay will remain at $75,386.
The city’s Salary Setting Commission proposed to keep pay the same for the next two years while setting in motion a series of reforms that, among other things, would tie compensation to the pay received by judges — a system used by many government jurisdictions.
The reforms, which stalled at the committee level, were not taken up by the City Council. Councilwoman Marti Emerald called on the package to be brought before them as soon as possible, however.
Lawyer Bob Ottilie, the head of the Salary Setting Commission, said the way elected official salaries are set in San Diego is a “dysfunctional situation.”
Critics of the process contend that council members routinely deny themselves raises over worries about negative voter reactions.
In a report to the council, Ottilie pointed out that there hasn’t been a raise in 13 years, and during that time the cost-of-living in San Diego has risen 27 percent.
Paul Downey Elected Chair of
California Commission on Aging
Paul Downey, president and CEO of Serving Seniors, has been unanimously elected by his peers to chair the California Commission on Aging for a one-year term.
The commission is the principal advisory body to the governor, Legislature, federal and local agencies, on issues affecting older individuals.
Downey was reappointed to the commission in 2015 for a second term by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins when she was Assembly Speaker.
Downey, the first chair from San Diego, will focus his efforts on improving senior nutrition and poverty. This includes working to increase the state match for funding the Older Americans Act senior nutrition programs and subsidies to build affordable housing for seniors.
“Paul has had a great impact on local and national aging initiatives over his 20-year career,” said Atkins.
Scripps Health Honored for Health
Care Equality for LGBT Patients
Scripps Health’s five hospital campuses have each been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” in the Healthcare Equality Index 2016, an annual survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization.
The survey is used to evaluate inclusive policies and practices related to LGBT patients, visitors and employees.
For the fifth consecutive year, Scripps hospitals earned top marks in meeting non-discrimination and training criteria that demonstrate the health system’s commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families, who can face significant challenges in securing adequate health care and respect they deserve.
“Despite all the progress we’ve made, far too many LGBT people still lack inclusive and affirming health care. Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality are helping to change that, and, in the process, making the lives of LGBT patients and their families better each and every day,” said Chad Griffin, HRC president.
New Ballot Initiative Would Permit
Online Signature Gathering
By City News Service
Backers of an initiative that would permit electronic signature gathering for state and local initiative, referendum, and recall petitions have received authorization to begin gathering signatures, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Wednesday.
The initiative would require the secretary of state to develop a system allowing voters to view petitions on secretary of state’s website and to sign them electronically directly on the website, or to download, print and sign printed petitions.
If the initiative were to become law, it would result in one-time state and local government costs in the millions of dollars or more to develop an online system for electronic petition signature gathering, according to an analysis made by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance.
The analysis also found there would be potential net costs or savings due to changed state and local government processes for verifying petition signatures.
Valid signatures from 365,880 registered voters — 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2014 general election — must be submitted by Oct. 3 to qualify the measure for the ballot, Padilla said.
Scientists Get First-Ever Glimpse of
‘Teenage’ HIV-Neutralizing Antibody
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute and collaborating institutions have described the first-ever immature or “teenage” antibody found in a powerful class of immune molecules effective against HIV.
“This is actually the first example of how we can go back to the really early stage to see how this antibody lineage was born and can develop,” said TSRI biologist Jiang Zhu, who served as co-senior author of the study.
The research was an international collaboration, also led by Yuxing Li of the University of Maryland, Yiming Shao of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), Peking University and Nankai University and Ian Wilson of TSRI.
The new knowledge of the evolution and key traits of anti-HIV antibodies could help researchers design a vaccine to prevent AIDS.
The study, published April 5, 2016, online ahead of print, will be featured as the cover story of the journal Immunity.