From ValuJet to Allegiant

In this May 9, 2013, file photo, two Allegiant Air jets taxi at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Shares of Allegiant Air's parent company are tumbling following a "60 Minutes"€ investigation that expressed serious safety concerns about the airline. (AP Photo/David Becker, File)

A caller says:

“You didn’t mention in here that Maury Gallagher, the guy who is the founder of Allegiant, was the founder of ValuJet … ValuJet had the aircraft—and I believe it was an MD-80 (no, it was a used DC9–MF) that loaded active oxygen making machines … in the cargo hold, and the airplane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board. So Maury Gallagher has a history of unsafe practices.”

Gallagher was a co-founder, not sole founder, of ValuJet.

Wikipedia says Valujet was, “was notorious for its sometimes dangerous cost-cutting measures. All of the airline’s planes were purchased used from other airlines, very little training was provided to workers, and contractors were used for maintenance and other services. The company quickly developed a reputation for its lax safety. In 1995, the military refused ValuJet’s bid to fly military personnel over safety worries, and officials at the FAA wanted the airline to be grounded.”

After Valujet went under, “Gallagher … gained control of (Allegiant) airline as a result of the bankruptcy and later became CEO and Chairman. Under his leadership, the airline changed headquarters to Las Vegas and eventually evolved a unique business model of flying older large commercial aircraft from small cities around the US to large leisure destinations.”

Wikipedia adds, “In May 2016, the FAA confirmed that Allegiant was under investigation for possible safety violations, drawing comparisons to the ValuJet crash twenty years earlier.”

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Consultant: Coroner’s Office must change

Sheriff Steve Moore

A consultant hired after the high-profile resignations of San Joaquin County Dr. Bennet Omalu and a colleague, who alleged interference form Sheriff Steve Moore — including on cases of officer-involved deaths — recommends making the Coroner’s Office independent and letting medical professionals run the show.

Money graf:

“The San Joaquin County Coroner’s Office must adapt a new structure to properly serve the citizens of San Joaquin County. The organizational structure must ensure that the individuals with the most knowledge and experience in conducting medicolegal death investigations provide the ultimate management and leadership for the office. The office must be and appear to be independent of law enforcement particularly when investigating deaths in the custody of law enforcement or while in jail/prison. This requires a complete shift towards a Medical Examiner System.”

Thus the resignation of Omalu and his colleague appears to be leading to a new system.


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From homeless czar to rock guitar

Today’s column about new chief of county homeless initiatives, Adam Chesire, mentions that he’s in a rock band, Code Blues.

Here they are.

From left: Adam Cheshire, Guitar and Vocals, James Koponen, Percussion, Jim Cheshire, Bass and Vocals. Photo courtesy Jim Cheshire

“About the band,” writes Jim Cheshire, Adam Cheshire’s dad, “10 years ago I got together with two of my fellow RN’s working in the ICU at Kaiser in South Sac to play a couple of ICU parties.  Soon, one of the guys dropped out and Adam stepped in. After I retired in 2015, we started playing a few gigs a year at the BrickHouse in Elk Grove to raise money for the Homeless Shelter.

“I know that there are probably multiple bands with a variation on that name, but I didn’t know about the Sac band called Code Blue.  But I’ll bet that there are not very many of them who have actually participated in real code blues like I have.”

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When radio was “spontaneous and varied”

Thom Magnuson was "Doug Collins" back in the day.

Thom. H. Magnuson, responding to the eulogy for deejay John Mack Flanagan, writes:

“I am often asked  what was it like to be a “Disc Jockey” back in the sixties and seventies? Usually I respond with kind of a snarky look on my face and allude to the availability of feminine companionship as being the prime benefit of being a “jock”. Perhaps explaining what the job of a DJ, at that time, was really like would more fully answer the question.

“A DJ was a man… always a male, never a female… who sat alone in a small room with; a  microphone, a clock, an audio mixer board, a copy book, three turntables, a rack full of prerecorded “spots” (commercials) and a wall of shelves filled with records – 45’s and LPs. You had a “format” to follow each hour; a contest here, plug a station event there, read the news at a certain point. The idea was to give the station a certain consistent “sound”, regardless of who was on the air.

“The DJ was required to use these elements to make a continuous flow of sound; blending music, commercials, time checks and talk, that would… hopefully… keep the audience entertained. Meanwhile, at a dozen or so sites in the same geographic area, there were guys doing, basically the same thing. They might be playing the same kind of music or a different genre, but they all had the same goal. All were in competition for “ratings”, the number of listeners at any given moment according to a couple of polling services. DJs that got good ratings were rewarded. DJs that got poor ratings were fired and replaced. Job security was determined by your last “book”.

“Now, what did it take to do this job? You had to believe that you were better at putting this presentation together than those other guys. That people would rather listen to you than to your competition. There is one word that describes this belief. Ego. If you didn’t have it, you had to fake it!

“I always adhered to three principles; 1 You promote yourself – you promote your time slot, 2. You promote your time slot – you promote your station, 3. You promote your station – you’re doing your job.

“Radio in those days was spontaneous and varied. The FCC had the seven/seven/seven rule. One company could only own seven AMs, seven FMs and seven TV stations. This meant that there were hundreds of independently owned stations across the nation that provided on the job training for new talent.

“Now a few companies own hundreds of stations. Most programming comes “from the bird”, beamed down from a satellite. One DJ in a central studio is heard on stations across the country. Satellite radio in cars, commercial free, is a major factor

“When I was in radio it was Fun. Now, not so much.

“Thank You for letting me share the ramblings of a “Radio Dinosaur”


(REAL NAME: Thom. H. Magnuson)



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The Valley’s on the map for Villaraigosa

Antonio Villaraigosa, city council member Jesus Andrade and his wife Andrea meet during Villagairosa's Stockton visit last year.

The good news is that gubernatorial candidate Antonio Villaraigosa continues to give the Valley serious attention.

“Villaraigosa will be in Modesto later this month for a fundraiser hosted by almond growers, one of dozens of trips he has made as a candidate to the Other California,” writes CalMatters.

The bad news is he’s favoring the Big Ag constituency located mostly at the Valley’s southern end. Water grabbers all.

“J.G. Boswell Co., one the state’s largest farmland owners, has given him $50,000. Fresno almond farmer Donald Peracchi chipped in $25,000. Peracchi is president of the Westlands Water District, which supplies water to farms in Fresno and Kings counties, and no issue is more important to farmers than water.

His donations from Boswell and the Westlands’ boss are worrisome to any advocate of sustainable Delta water policy.

Not that it’s all bad, not at all “Sarah Woolf said Villaraigosa spent “two full days” with her Fresno-based farming operation last year, “learning about water and agriculture,” and has returned multiple times since.

“He wasn’t coming with answers. He was coming to listen,” said Woolf, a Republican. Woolf Farming donated $15,000 to his campaign.”

It’s impossible to be entirely comfortable to hear Villaraigosa is being schooled on Ag by customers of the Westlands Water District. I can just hear farmer’s grousing about the durned Delta smelt …

Villaraigosa’s platform reflects south-Valley Ag. He the proposed Temperance Flat reservoir east of Fresno, though it doesn’t make any sense, and Sites Reservoir north of Sacramento. Temperance Flat made it into the water bond because Dems needed Republican support. But analysis by UOP’s business Forecasting Center showed the project is a big loser.

On the other hand, he opposes the Delta tunnel project.

Villaraigosa isn’t perfect — no pol ever is — but he’s got the Valley on his agenda. Which is more than I can for front runner Gavin Newsom.


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Bee: Dino Cortopassi was right

His dog wouldn't hunt -- though perhaps it should have. Dino Cortopassi, author of the unsuccessful Prop. 53.

Voters should have passed the wealthy Stockton farmer’s Proposition 53 – the No Blank Checks initiative, the Modesto Bee writes.

It would have given voters a say on capital projects over $2 billion such as the twin tunnels project. Precisely what Gov. Brown and other proponents wanted to avoid.

I gave Cortopassi’s idea a generally good review.

But the editorial board urged a no vote saying, “the $2 billion threshold for a public vote is restrictive.”

The MoBee longs for those restrictions. “Perhaps Cortopassi will revive his “No Blank Checks” proposition,” it writes. “Someone should.”

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Now we’re a “barren outpost”

Right. Just so barren.

They New York Times ran a story about the many California state prisoners being released, and all the support they need to make it on the outside.

The piece is centered in Stockton, which the Times reporter calls “a barren outpost in California’s Central Valley.”

A good article, actually, which you can read here.

When I know such reporters are in town, I background them. Which usually results in better balanced stories. Stories purged of big-city condescension. Usually.

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Make that 87 million

Now that Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify before Congress, he'll need to seek advice not just from lawyers but also from communications specialists on addressing Facebook's privacy fiasco. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

From the New York Times, more about the Cambridge Analytica scandal we columnnized on here:

• Facebook said that the data of up to 87 million users may have been improperly shared with a political consulting firm, far more than an earlier estimate of 50 million.

Oh, yeah, and this:

 Cambridge Analytica’s parent company apparently helped Rodrigo Duterte win the Philippine presidential election, our former Europe Morning Briefing writer, Patrick Boehler, noted on Twitter. [South China Morning Post]

· Facebook Insider Says Warnings About Data Safety Went Unheeded By Executives  PBS FRONTLINE

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An Icelander profiles Stockton

Svavar Jonatansson of Rejkyavik, Iceland.

Svavar Jónatansson, an Icelandic public radio reporter, visited Stockton in February of 2017 to record one of his “Borgarmyndir,” or city snapshots. Now he has this to say in his travelogue:

“Borgin Stockton liggur við norðurenda hins mikla landbúnaðarsvæðis kennt við Central Valley í Kaliforníu. Saga Stockton er litrík og er samofin upphafi gullæðisins árið 1848. Hinsvegar hefur orðspor borgarinnar síðustu ár mótast af hárri glæpatíðni og skapað krefjandi verkefni fyrir yfirvöld. Rætt er við tvo heimamenn sem hafa upplifað borgina á ólíkan hátt, annar með áherslu á tækifærin, hinn skort á tækifærum. Þátturinn var unninn við upphaf árs 2017. Umsjón: Svavar Jónatansson.”

Which google translates as:

“The city of Stockton lies at the northern end of the great agricultural area taught (?) at Central Valley, California. The history of Stockton is colorful and coincided with the beginning of the golden age (must mean Gold Rush) in 1848. However, the reputation of the city in recent years has been shaped by high crime rates and created challenging tasks for the authorities. There are two locals who have experienced the city in different ways, another focusing on opportunities, the lack of opportunities. The episode was performed (?) at the beginning of 2017. Supervision: Svavar Jónatansson.

“The show includes a wide focus on the history of Stockton, both from my narration and from your  insights, shared in the interview, as well as a lot of thoughts on how cities change historically from negative situations, New York in the 80s being a good example,” Jónatansson writes. “On top of that are statistics of how the situation has been developing in Stockton.

Hear Jónatansson’s segment on Stockton here. Warning: it’s in Icelandic, until I come in.

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Scuttlebutt on Stockton’s marina

The amphitheater west of Waterfront Warehouse with the municipal marina in the background. A new marina management company says it can use that amphitheater to boost marina occupancy. CALIXTRO ROMIAS

Stockton’s marina dates to the pre-bankruptcy days when city leaders believed no expense was too much, and if you build it they will come.

… No matter how poorly you design it. The marina’s high-toned character, so out of step with the funky Delta, and its lack of basics, such as a cold beer, or bait or — did I mention beer? — doomed it to irrelevance and red ink.

Amazingly, as I reported here, no full analysis was done on the $22 million project. It was all ad hoc.

Officials, amateurs at marina operation,  ordered pricey redesigns to impress Bay Area yachtsmen. “They had corrugated metal roofing for the slips,” gasped then-Mayor Ann Johnston, who was a councilperson when the marina was upscaled. “I said, ‘You can’t do this. It looks too seedy. It looks cheap.’ ”

Johnston asked me back then, “Do you want the heart of Stockton to be a Lost Isle?”

Oh, Heaven forfend!

Less known is that the marina was supposed to profit from a “dry stack” boat storage facility at nearby Morelli Park. Rumor is (the city says it can’t find records) officials ordered a shed with door too small for the forklift on which they put a non-refundable down payment.

The facility never opened. The shed sat in storage at the Port for years before the city quietly sold it off.

The $237,000 a year deficit is not as bad as it sounds. In bankruptcy the city restructured a $10.8 million loan from the state Department of Boating and Waterways that helped pay for marina construction: as long as the marina loses money, that loan need not be repaid.

But that deal puts the city on the horns of an absurd dilemma. If the marina should actually turn a profit, the city has to pay back the $10.8 million. Which may be why the its contract with SMG focuses on deficit reduction, not elimination.

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    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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