Bloggers welcome at Democrat Debates, but….

LAPD Says not to bloggers at Republican Debates! 

Yes, you got that the headline correct.  Our own David Markland is at the Democrat debates pounding out the posts on what is going on faster than I can open up the RSS feeds.  YET, two local bloggers with Blogher.com were refused Press Passes for the Republican Convention.  Their full story given to us as story suggest speaks for itself.

“On Monday, BlogHer’s Katy Chen and Erin Kotecki Vest were suddenly denied LAPD Press Passes for the Republican Debate tonight: “However, the Los Angeles Police Department denied credentials to both Katy and I on the grounds we are “online media” and BlogHer.com was not throughly investigated by the LAPD. This decision came suddenly after weeks of talks with LAPD personnel and assurances that Katy and I, as former Los Angeles news reporters, would be applying for a press pass “renewal” as we were simply changing our media affiliation.” I am a BlogHer.com contributing editor, so this is of personal concern to me, but I also believe that these sorts of things concern the blogosphere and the public at large, particularly Angelinos. Thank you.”. 

We can add this to the debate. We don’t know and likely never will know what if any part partisan politics took in the decision. All appearances is the GOP had nothing to do with the decision but that the blog had not been thoroughly investigated by LAPD researchers.

Add that to the debate as to whether “bloggers” are media I opened earlier HERE.  Maybe more precisely…is media and “on-line” media different and should they be treated differently when looking at processing press passes?  Chime in LA as this affects the blogsphere’s ability to gather information and report.

Thanks to Liz Rizzo for the story suggestion (and our own Jason Burns for alerting me it was in there).

Live from the Debate

This is the fifth Metroblogging dispatch from the CNN Debate at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Keep an eye on the front page or our politics category for updates, or check out my Flickr page for more photos throughout the day.

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A quick rush of some photos from inside the debate hall. Besides Wolf Blotzer, Mayor V, Chief Bratton, San Fran Mayor Newsom, Rob Reiner, and of course Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, you may spot Leonard DiCaprio, Pierce Brosnan, and Waldo. Like what you hear at the debate, one of these may be a lie.

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Continue reading Live from the Debate

Anonymous Vs. Scientology gets real

For my second Anonymous Vs. Church of Scientology post of day I’ve got news that this has officially gone from online talk to real world action. According to KFIAM a handful of Scientology locations around Los Angeles were mailed “suspicious white powder” causing panic, chaos, and general mayhem. You know, quarantines and such. The powder turned out to be cornstarch and nothing harmful at all and while everyone is bound to start asking if this is right, if this is wrong, if this is a dumb prank, if this is terrorism, etc I’ve got a different question – has the atmosphere of fear that has been fostered here in the US since 2001 made things like this possible? I mean, honestly, if an envelope of white powder was sent to someone in 2000 it would have gotten strange looks at best. People probably would have tasted it to see what the hell it was, or maybe assumed it was cocaine at worst. But now, in an era when people can be charged with terrorism for making bad jokes, anyone with an envelope, a kitchen, and a stamp can shut down entire buildings. Are we any safer?

Strange Smoke Seen From Somewhere Around LAX

So beginning about 2:15 p.m. yesterday and continuing at approximately every five minutes for about an hour and a half, I witnessed from my 10th floor office window in Westchester the release of smoke drifiting inland across the skies above LAX/El Segundo. At first I freaked because seeing smoke pour into the air over an airport is never a good thing, but then it happened a second time and I realized it had to be intentional and controlled so I set up the cam and snapped away. I then compiled the images into the following timelapse which actually contains two sequences: the first (at 7.2 x zoom) of which took place between 2:34 and 2:36 p.m., the second (at 12x zoom) about 10 minutes later. The source of the smoke is obscured by the building in the foreground, but that’s the airport’s old control tower next to it and since it seems the smoke’s entering the airspace behind it I can only guess it’s from some type of plant in El Segundo. If/even so: still trippy. Anyone know the source?

UPDATE (02.01): B.la reader Matt totally solved it: Chevron reports its released steam from their refinery operations out there.

Villaraigosa Tied to Chicago Slumlord

tonyhill.jpgWhoops. The North County Times has implicated our mayor in a scandal!

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a national co-chair of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, banked at least $1,500 in political donations from an indicted Chicago businessman whose past connections to Barack Obama have been used by Clinton to criticize her rival’s judgment and ethics.

Shaping up to be a fun election year… eh, kids?

UPDATE 4:29pm: The Daily News is reporting that Villaraigosa got $10,500 from an indicted Obama contributor. Which is it? How much of it was spent shopping in Sherman Oaks? Spill it, Tony. the media blogger wants to know.

Meet Chase, bomb sniffer

This is the fourth Metroblogging dispatch from the CNN Debate at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Keep an eye on the front page or our politics category for updates, or check out my Flickr page for more photos throughout the day.

DSC_0079.jpgFor the kids, and suckers for dog photos, here’s the canine who I need to sniff my camera each and every single time I leave and come back into the press room. I’d be annoyed, but Chase is cordial, and always lets me pass. Even though, for some reason, he lingers on my camera a little too long each time. Does it smell like bacon?

For obvious reasons, I couldn’t get a photo of him sniffing my stuff. So below are a couple of him checking out other’s bags. At right, Chase and his human, Donna.

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Tell me LA is a “Blogger” media?

OK,  our Metroblogging City Captain dropped me a note after I explained the whole “not media” thing.  I initially thought I should just drop it and not get into some petty argument with our PIO.  He said post it as whether bloggers are media or not is always debatable. For the record note I have gotten press credentials from other events as a “blogger” so at least the City of LA, the Auto Show and a couple of Corporations have issued press passes to me in the past.  I may not be the best but at least I can meet minimum qualifications.  

Briefly here is how it played out. I attended the city press conference regarding the gang warfare here.  The city Principal Information Officer was giving transcripts of the mayors speech.  Several of us asked for a copy and he replied “it is for media only”.  I said, that’s fine “I am the media, I am frazgo at blogging.la and I happen to live here”.  He said” I am familiar with your work, you are not media you do not get one”  He turned around and walked away from me I said, “oh, can I quote you on that?”.  He stopped for a second  and then walked on.  

Whatever I think to myself. 

He walked away, chatted with someone on the council stage then came back handed me a copy and said “Since we are going for accuracy let it be known you are an advocate and we do not consider you media”.  Whatever, I didn’t get thrown out. A got a copy of the transcript which wound up not being useful to me or of interest to you.  I know there were other bloggers in the audience at the time so I wasn’t the only one. 

So my question to you LA, is a “blogger” media or not? 

Found: Hillary Clinton supporters

This is the third Metroblogging dispatch from the CNN Debate at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Keep an eye on the front page or our politics category for updates, or check out my Flickr page for more photos throughout the day.

DSC_0159.jpgPlease note: To answer a reader’s question, yes there will be a live viewing party for the public in the courtyard of Hollywood & Highland. Come on down and be part of this historic event!

After I took this photo, the man behind the mask told me he was working for tips. Draw you own conclusions.

Below are some more pics of Clinton supporters, and some other selects.

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(Left) CNN’s Richard Quest having his bags checked by bomb sniffing dog (off camera). (Right) Snoopy for Hillary!
Continue reading Found: Hillary Clinton supporters

When is a Press Conference Surreal?

Today was one of those surreal moments.  I went to the Monrovia Press Conference staged to let the public know through the media what the various government agencies are doing to control the gang warfare that is plaguing my corner of the SGV.  (A side bar is that people writing on blogs aren’t considered media, rather advocates but I wasn’t tossed out so that is OK).  

As a citizen I sat there listening to the Mayor’s speech.  One by one various members of the community and county stood up and introduced themselves.  The mayor stood there and said this show of forces is what will do what it takes to fix the problem.  I believe him and agree that the community as a whole needs to step up and talk about what they see to help them rid us all of the problem.  I may not always agree with the methods but I do remember to be thankful someone stood up to do the job.

Continue reading When is a Press Conference Surreal?

The Kodak Theatre is Obama Central

This is the second Metroblogging dispatch from the CNN Debate at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Keep an eye on the front page or our politics category for updates, or check out my Flickr page for more photos throughout the day.

As previously mentioned, Barack Obama supporters are swarming around Hollywood & Highland in anticipation of their 2pm rally. Here’s a quick collection of pics from some of the early birds…

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(Left) This man is wearing a tie under that t-shirt. (Right) I really hope this guy didn’t have to bring this sign by bus.

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(Left) The D.Lush smoothie kids. (Right) Regular ‘ol “can do” kids.
Continue reading The Kodak Theatre is Obama Central

Feb 10th Anonymous Call To Arms

0101110104070116132008012993d727a7712f9bee530018dd.jpgI’ve been blogging about the Anonymous Vs Scientology situation (previous posts here and here) and it now seems like Anonymous is planning an all day protest event here in Los Angeles on Feb 10th. This posting on craigslist contains the following “V for Vendetta” inspired poem:

Legion will carry
the 10th of February
The flock’s at your gate
Your clocks are all late
A mass will convene
on the L.R.H. scene
An S.P. you’ll wish for
when you see what we fish for

It also says “Masks, silence and law abidance strongly encouraged.” The folks over at Epic-FU have more on the other Feb 10th plans that Anonymous seems to be working on around the country, as I said before this is going to get interesting…

CNN’s Election Express

This is the first Metroblogging dispatch from the CNN Debate at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Keep an eye on the front page or our politics category for updates, or check out my Flickr page for more photos throughout the day.

DSC_0082.jpgThe streets around the Kodak are closed off, but pedestrian traffic is strong… mostly Obama supporters. As much as I’ve tried and asked, nobody seems to know where the Hillary supporters are… one rumor is that a couple have been spotted on Franklin.

Anyone wanting to take a peek at the action can visit CNN’s Election Express – a mobile marketing tour that has spent the last week in the Los Angeles area, including the 3rd Street Promenade, a Simi Valley Mall, and, of course, the Reagan Library. After today it makes one more private stop – a high school in Ontario – but today will be the last chance for locals to check it out.

The highlight of the Election Express appears to be a button maker, which is ironic considering the amount of technology attached to the bus. The bus also features a mock electronic voting machine that polls you on different issues, than makes a custom graphic symbolizing your choices. After answering some questions about the war in Iraq, it labeled me an “Elehawk”. Anyone can also leave a political message or whatever other scribble they want on their “graffiti board,” which already by 11am had some passionate screeds and, of course, a regular ‘ol tag. As I was leaving one girl was writing an endorsement for Kucinich.

After the jump, more pics from the Election Express.
Continue reading CNN’s Election Express

Subway(s) to the Sea

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Meetings start tonight about subway options for the Westside. Some media outlets are reporting that a Wilshire subway extension is the favored route over a Red Line extension under Santa Monica, while others say the public wants both.

So, which is it?

Last year, there seemed to be overwhelming support in West Hollywood for the Santa Monica route. Are some reports ignoring popular public opinion to build both lines as a result of political pressure from the city and the Metro Board? Or is it a result of their own agenda?

If you favor one route over the other – or both… you must speak up.
If you favor a subway over elevated rail, or bus… you must speak up.
If you favor groundbreaking tomorrow… you must speak up.

It does not matter if you live in Van Nuys, Compton, Pasadena or Studio City. This will affect any long range plan to build a public transportation system in Los Angeles.

For the Westside Extension Transit Corridor Study presentation, with maps of every subway, light rail, monorail, and bus route possibilities, click here.

Meeting times & locations after the jump.
Continue reading Subway(s) to the Sea

This could happen anywhere, even in Westwood

So I’ve been receiving the LAFD Alerts for a while and appreciate getting notifications in my inbox about stuff going on around the city.

If you’re in the Westwood area, you should definitely follow the UCPD (UCLA Police Department) Crime Alert Bulletins: http://map.ais.ucla.edu/portal/site/UCLA/menuitem.789d0eb6c76e7ef0d66b02ddf848344a/?vgnextoid=e95bad9386bab010VgnVCM100000db6643a4RCRD

Here’s one from earlier this week:

UCPD Crime Alert

January 28, 2008

ATTEMPTED KIDNAPPING

At approximately 7:35 a.m., a female UCLA staff member was walking on Westwood Blvd, approaching Weyburn Ave, when an unknown suspect grabbed her from behind and attempted to pull her towards the opposite side of the street. The victim punched the suspect in the face and the suspect released his grip and fled into an awaiting van parked across the street.

Suspect Descriptions
#1: Male, Hispanic, 5’7″/160lbs, approximately 25 yrs, black ski mask, all black clothing, tattoo on top of right hand

#2: Male, Hispanic, all black clothing, black ski mask

Weapon: Physical Force

Suspect vehicle: White, “working van”, tinted windows

Source: http://www.ucpd.ucla.edu/2008/0128CA_a.pdf

The Daily Bruin reports a string of crimes in Westwood recently.

Britney Spears is Spending Your Hard Earned Money

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A major story from the world-renowned Los Angeles Times: LAPD and LAFD took Britney away today – for the second time this month – so that mental health professionals can determine whether or not she is crazy.

More than a dozen motorcycle officers and a Los Angeles Fire Department ambulance swept through the front gates of Spears’ hilltop Studio City residence shortly before 1 a.m., as a police helicopter hovered overhead. At 1:08 a.m., officers inside the home radioed to commanders that “the package is on the way out.”

Spears was rushed from a side entrance of her home into an ambulance. As she was driven down Coldwater Canyon Boulevard, her vehicle was escorted by more than a dozen motorcycle officers, two cruisers and two police helicopters.

Total community resources used:

  • 12 motorcycle officers
  • 2 police cruisers
  • 2 police helicopters
  • 1 ambulance

Your 2007 income tax return is due April 17th.