Tag Archive: Glendale News-Press

“Many of the people living on Los Angeles’ streets lack health as well as homes. They were put there by social policy, legacies of the mid-1960s when California was a laboratory for reform–and they sit there as another reminder of reform gone awry.” — Sherry Bebitch-Jeffe, USC Institute of Politics and Government, March 22, 1987

California’s road to homeless hell was paved five decades ago with landmark legislation with good intentions.

According to repeated KNBC (Burbank) I-Team reports, the City of the Angels has become the City of Trash. The number of homeless on the streets of the City of Los Angeles today (does not include the remainder of the Southland) would fill a 36,000-seat stadium.

A similar count of homeless in San Francisco City-County jumped 30 percent year-over-year to 17,595 last year (does not include the balance of the Bay Area).

California with its 12 percent of the nation’s population is “home” to 22 percent of the country’s homeless.

And with these ever increasing numbers of homeless comes ubiquitous mounds of public excretion, piled-up garbage and epidemics of disease-carrying vermin (e.g., rats). The number of Los Angeles typhus cases reached 93 in 2019, the predictable result of homelessness, trash, filth and rats.

As a former gubernatorial press secretary (e.g., Governor George Deukmejian), Almost DailyBrett knows it wasn’t always this way in the Golden State. There was a wonderful time when California was a great state with a great governor. Alas, that era has passed.

There was a much earlier time when mentally distressed Californians received care in safe state hospitals.

They weren’t on the street. Now they are seemingly everywhere.

And if you try to reverse the tide you are a mean-spirited, insensitive bad person, who wants to “warehouse” the homeless. As a result, no one does anything except throw more money at the problem.

Los Angeles passed a surcharge on the county’s staggering 10.5 percent sales tax, and $1.2 billion in bonded indebtedness for temporary homeless shelters.

What’s next?

And yet there was a day in which California warehoused the homeless … another way of saying, the state took care of the safety of all of its citizens.

The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS)

As a cub reporter for the Glendale News-Press, your author covered the funeral of Assemblyman Frank Lanterman (1901-1981) at the Church of the Lighted Window in La Canada-Flintridge, California.

A virtual who’s-who of California politics attended the service including then-Governor Jerry Brown and then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown among others. “Papa Frank” was revered as a compassionate man, who took a sincere interest in people most would rather put out their collective minds: the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled.

Unarguably, there was horrific unfairness with involuntary confinement to California’s mental hospitals (e.g., Camarillo). Lanterman wanted to address the specter of people being held without recourse for years, decades or even the rest of their natural lives.

Alas, the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act of 1967 cure (e.g., homelessness) proved over time to be worse than the disease of warehousing. Lanterman was an Assembly Republican. Nicholas Petris and Alan Short were state Senate Democrats. The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act was signed into law by then Governor Reagan in 1967. The legislation is a product of the days when California actually had two political parties.

The legislation came with predictable public relations alliteration as it was designed to end, “inappropriate, indefinite and involuntary commitment.”

The well-meaning deinstitutionalization bill was intended to save taxpayer dollars (e.g., Reagan interest) and end warehousing (e.g., Lanterman, Petris and Short legislative intent). The mentally ill (except for the most serious of cases) were released into the community with the notion of seeking community care.

Some homeless did just that, they went to their community providers and took their pills. Others … way too many others … ended up on the streets.

The evidence can be seen in a slow-motion Disney-style ride in a traffic jam plagued vehicle passing literally hundreds of tents lined up along California major and minor city streets.

Be Wary Of Social Engineering; Practice Tough Love

The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act is yet another example of best-intended social engineering with unfortunate unintended consequences, impacting two generations of humanity, those fortunate enough to live in homes and apartments, and those forced into hard-sleep hell.

Will there ever be those in positions of trust with the courage to say, ‘Enough is enough.’

Some may blame California’s crazy housing and rental prices as contributing to the problem. No doubt. But the evidence appears clear that California legislated the crisis by emptying the state hospitals, and the result is visible virtually everywhere, everyday … 24-7-365.

There are people on the streets (e.g., Union Square in San Francisco), who are a danger to themselves and others. They don’t need temporary shelter only to return to homeless squalor in short order. Instead, they need tough love. They need to be moved into safe and secure state mental hospitals to receive the care they so desperately need.

Almost DailyBrett believes the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act needs to be repealed, and replaced with legislation that does not return to inappropriate, indefinite and involuntary commitment.” 

Instead the state will have authority to remove mentally ill homeless from the streets and to acknowledge the outsourcing of care was an undeniable failure. The homeless mentally ill need to be cared in a stable and safe environment, benefiting them and Californians as a whole.

It just seems that courageous California public leaders are in short supply.






When I first heard about this “fatal flaw,” I thought the rule was unusually harsh.

The dictate of USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism way back in the mid-1970s was simply this: If you misspelled a name on any document or any length of any level of importance, the result was swift-and-final: a “Falcon” on the paper.


As a result, one double-checked…sorry, one triple-checked every name on every page of every document and then asked a fellow student to do the same. Nothing, and I mean, absolutely nothing was left to chance. That was then. That may not be the case now…but it should be.

Two years later, the wisdom of this rule was validated by the look of horror on the face of the society editor of one of my first employer’s, the Glendale News Press in Southern California. She was having her ear burned off by the furious, foaming-at-the-mouth, mother-of-the-bride. Her precious, crying daughter’s name was misspelled in the cut line of the family wedding photo that ran in the home town paper. Hell knows no fury like a pissed off mother-of-the-bride. Guess receiving an “F” on an academic paper, even the final, is not so bad in comparison.


Fast forward to the present day and as Almost DailyBrett readers know, I am a Graduate Teacher Fellow at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. As such I am working with students and in some cases, mentoring, helping them in their pursuit of their degree and hopefully a career-path job right after that.

Wonder who is going to hire the student that spelled the name of the leader of the free world in a headline: “Barrack Obama?” He wondered why he was receiving a “C” on his paper. I then showed him the headline. Please don’t suggest that I am getting soft in my mature age.

We certainly live in a digital world. And that means that communicators regardless of the discipline – advertising, public relations, broadcast, social media, print – need to be proficient in technology skills. These marketable skills include Apple’s Final Cut Pro for audio and video editing; Adobe Bridge and Photo Shop for photographic work; Microsoft PowerPoint and Prezi for presentations; Excel for spread sheets and many more now and in the future.

Having said that, there is still a need for old-fashioned analog skills including basic writing and editing. Spelling, grammar and following the good ole Associated Stylebook all still matter. They all speak to professionalism.

Are Journalism schools literally throwing out the baby with the bathwater by overly concentrating on the digital and giving short shrift to analog skills? Whatever happened to Newswriting 101? There is still a need for this course; in fact there is a compelling need. I see it every day editing papers, pointing out the same errors over-and-over again to a multitude of students.

The blank stares from far-too-many students when they are asked to recite the cherished five W’s and one H of Journalism tells the story. They need to use the “Inverted Pyramid” to tell the reader in a paragraph or two, the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the story. This skill is going to survive any change to Moore’s Law. This is the basic hard news lead that serves news hounds around the world and always will.

Journalism may be changing, particularly with the advent of Web 2.0 and conversational marketing. The insatiable demand for news is growing as literally millions in developing nations are moving into the middle class. They want news and information like all the rest. There is no doubt that bites, bytes, bells and whistles will play an increasingly prominent role in delivering the news reports of the future. They still need to be professionally written whether they appear on stone tablets or digitally in cyberspace.

And that means that spelling still matters, grammar still matters, editing still matters and style still matters. Let’s get back to the future…before it is too lait…err…late.







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