Posts

We sued a state agency. Will it release the records?

Image
Seeing this on a court calendar is still a little surreal to me: Rittiman vs. CPUC , now cleared to proceed by the California Supreme Court, is scheduled for oral argument at 9:00am PT on Tuesday, May 3 in the 1st District Court of Appeal. You can watch oral argument live  here . NEW: The San Francisco Public Press highlighted ABC10's case in  an extensive new report  out today: Applying century-old laws meant to fight corruption, the commission has effectively limited court enforcement of the state’s public records act. But a state appeals court on May 3 is hearing a lawsuit challenging that practice and could bring more transparency to the commission.  For the record, I didn't ask to be the named plaintiff on the case ABC10 filed against the government agency that regulates power monopolies in California. Our attorney Steve Zansberg filed it that way for a reason: You don't have to be a professional news organization to obtain public records under California's transp

"I couldn't put the board of PG&E in jail" - Why was PG&E allowed to settle?

Image
Recently, PG&E was allowed to settle two large wildfires it caused-- without admitting to criminal wrongdoing : The 2021 Dixie Fire , which burned nearly a million acres in five counties-- including the whole town of Greenville, CA and roughly half of Lassen Volcanic National Park. The 2019 Kincade Fire , which burned more than a hundred homes in Sonoma County-- sparked by a power line that was left on during widespread October blackouts. An arrow points to part of a PG&E power line suspected in the Kincade Fire. PG&E had already been charged with 33 criminal counts in Kincade and was under criminal investigation in Dixie. In this story, we press prosecutors on why they struck the deal when they felt they could prove the criminal charges in court: they told us two things: 1. They felt they could do more good for more people by settling. 2. As we've explained before , convicting PG&E of the crimes wouldn't have resulted in very stiff penalties. The prosecutors wa

Our beloved ruler, Cat, dies at 18

Image
Her kingdom wasn't vast. Her subjects weren't numerous. But Cat inspired the sort of devotion in her people that would make Earth's lesser monarchs sick with envy. Cat, the beloved feline and supreme ruler of our household, died peacefully Wednesday at a veterinary facility in Rio Linda, California. She was 18 years old. It's difficult for most Americans to understand the grief that strikes when a beloved monarch dies. Our family now understands it all too well. Apart from small gestures of affection, we subjects were generally forbidden to shower Cat with our love. Even so, she would never let us feel even for a moment that we were unloved. Cat watched over us all. She would appear as if by magic, always there to provide comfort when one of her subjects needed her. Cat had a way of knowing you could use some company before you  even realized it yourself. I joined the royal family by marriage, of course, to Cat's human servant. "We're a package deal,"

How Twitter (not a President) could start World War III

Image
I work in TV news, an industry that gets a lot of crap (much of it deserved) for ginning up fear to attract attention. And yet, we seemed to have mostly moved on after something that really is  worth being terrified about. This week we got a legitimately horrifying look at perhaps one of the dumber ways the world could end. Not with a bang, but with a... Well... This: Now: The president's personal twitter account @realDonaldTrump appears to be gone. Both on phone & desktop. #9news pic.twitter.com/XiqsLOXXl3 — Brandon Rittiman (@BrandonRittiman) November 2, 2017 In all, this lasted 11 minutes of our Thursday, briefly sparking all kinds of theories which varied depending on peoples' politics: "I bet the liberals who run Twitter are trying to censor him!" "Did he actually delete his account? Oh what a wonderful world it'll be now!" I wish it was one of those things. I really do. Because the truth-- at least as Twitter tells

Our EV costs 73% less to drive than our Jeep

Image
The per-mile cost of driving our two cars To the dismay of internet trolls, I chose to drive my new electric car instead of returning it to the dealership or smashing it for scrap metal. And guess what? It's a HELLUVA lot cheaper to drive than our other car: 72.8 percent cheaper, to be exact. RELATED: Haters be hatin' on my cheap new EV I'll do the math on this below so you can see my methodology and update a few more things I've learned driving this car for a month as well. We recently became the unlikely owners of a Nissan Leaf, thanks to a combination of private incentives and government tax credits in Colorado that slashed the effective pre-tax price of the car to $9,400 in our case. (The $10,000 Xcel customer incentive expires June 30.) Our electric bills RELATED: How to get a new EV for under $10,000 The first month's power bill is in: driving this car for my daily commute and around-town errands for the month raised our electric bill ab

Haters be hatin' on my cheap new electric car

Image
They say "never read the comments," but what fun is that? I recently bought a new Nissan Leaf, an all-electric car-- even though we set out to buy a used gas car. Me, having a sad, after realizing the trolls are right. I managed to get the new electric car for an effective pre-tax price of $9,474. That sounded a lot better than the used 2015 gas cars I was finding with 30,000+ miles on them for $10,000-$13,000. As I explained in the story I wrote for 9NEWS, we ended up with the new electric car instead because several incentives made it cheaper: we got a $10,000 discount for Xcel energy customers (only applies to the Leaf,) a $7,500 federal EV tax credit that we won't see until we file next year's return, and a $5,000 state of Colorado EV tax credit that dealers can now apply to the purchase price. A new Nissan Leaf. The story contained an entire section on reasons not to buy this car-- essentially that it's not practical for severe weather

The reporter who saved a guy and caught crap for it

Image
Campion assists the man from a safer depth. (KTRK) KTRK reporter Steve Campion ended up doing a lot more than his day job during flooding in Houston-- he saved a man's life in the middle of a live broadcast. If you haven't seen the video, go watch here . It's really something. And yet, somehow, the internet has found it to be very important that Campion be shamed for his tone w hile rescuing the man. Campion hollered to the man to swim from his sinking car. The video shows that the victim began to understand Campion's instructions and eventually did begin to swim-- a move that may well have saved his life. But numerous bloggers (apparently self-appointed experts in swift water rescue) couldn't help but remark that Campion seemed "annoyed" during the rescue. Indeed, Campion does seem flustered while yelling back and forth with the confused driver, who had trouble understanding Campion's advice to abandon his sinking car. The victim

How Cam the Ram got political with a bull

Image
Cam the Ram in TV ad for question 2C. (Source: A Smart Deal for Denver) It flashes by so quickly, most TV viewers in Colorado might not give it a second thought. Cam the Ram, the mascot for Colorado State University athletics, appears on screen for two seconds of a 30-second political ad asking voters to vote in favor of extending a tourism tax to benefit the area around the National Western Stock Show complex. He's there because CSU stands to gain a new Agricultural facility as part of the master plan that ballot question 2C would help to fund. While working on a Truth Test of the ad for 9NEWS on Monday, I wondered how it came to be that CSU would participate in a political ad this way. In similar circumstances, local school district officials are loathe to appear as though they are campaigning in favor of bond issue questions, even if they think the measures are vital. So, we asked CSU what made it okay to use Cam on camera. "In August, the CSU

"WEED got that b-roll!"

Image
A presumably normal woman, blowing marijuana smoke. (Image: DPA) After celebrating some victories on the ballot, marijuana advocates have another issue to blunt: They want pot to be seen as a substance that normal, everyday people do. Which is what sparked a new high in pro-marijuana public relations. I give you: the marijuana b-roll project. Put this in your pipe and smoke it: Yes, the puns in this post are on purpose. This is all supposed to be in good fun. B-roll is TV shorthand for footage that can be shown while somebody talks. The Drug Policy Alliance is (fairly, I think) sick of, in their words: "watching cheesy b-roll footage of textbook stoners for every television news story about marijuana." What they offered is an amusing, too-perfect collection of 21 clips of people buying and using marijuana-- which brings back fond memories of the infamous " we got that broll " YouTube sketch: 1. He's helping, but looks like grandma's teach

What's it like in there?

Image
It's a question I keep getting in some form as the Aurora theater trial crawls forward: "what's it like in there?" As I write this we are in week 3 of what's anticipated to be a 4-5 month long mass-murder trial, so large in scope that it can be hard to grasp. This case has more victims of attempted murder (those wounded in the July 2012 shooting) than there are seats in the courtroom. Countless others are touched by the loss of the 12 people who died as a result of the attack. The truth is... there just isn't a simple answer to the question of what it's like to cover this trial. There are many moments in which I feel like I'm on a 1,000-mile long moving walkway: this thing is moving, but I can't even imagine being near the end yet. There are other moments that I know I'll remember for the rest of my life. I can't even begin to fathom what it's like to have lost a person to an attack like this, but I do get glimpses. Insid

Rep. Klingenschmitt Sings a Motion

Image
Rep. Klingenschmitt reaches the end of his song. You never know what you're going to get when you show up to the Colorado legislature. On a snowy February Thursday morning, business got underway in the state House of Representatives with an original song. Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R-Colorado Springs,) who arrived in the legislature as a polarizing figure , belted out a motion to start up business for the day to the tune of "Yesterday" by the Beatles. Just watch it: If you find yourself inspired, here are the lyrics so you can sing at home:

Update: The day after abandoning my Facebook page

Image
My first full day without my Facebook page is going well and the experience feels differently than I'd imagined, which I'll explain in a moment. I heard from many fellow journalists yesterday after posting my detailed reasoning for shrugging off the "Pages" system Facebook wants us to use-- in favor of simply creating a second account , wanting to know how this goes. READ: WHY I KISSED MY FACEBOOK PAGE GOODBYE It's a proposition that puts me at risk of being found in violation of Facebook's terms of service, though I sincerely hope not. FIRST, THE NUMBERS! As I write this, my new account is up to 275 friends and a handful of subscribers. Which means on just the first day, I'm at 71 percent of the total connections (386) I had on my fledgling page before I abandoned it. I've had a steady flow of friend requests since then, and Facebook made it pretty easy to grow my audience by suggesting all kinds of friends for me. I was giddy to dis

Why I kissed my Facebook page goodbye

Image
I tried. I REALLY tried... to do Facebook the way Facebook wanted me to do it. But after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I've decided that as a journalist, Facebook's current system just isn't for me in my professional life. I'm not leaving Facebook outright, (unless the social network giant decides to TOS me... more on this below) but I am kissing my reporter page goodbye... in favor of a second personal profile for work. Why? It's simple: Facebook has consistently rewarded all of my friends in the news business who broke the rules-- while punishing those of us who foolishly chose to abide by them. If you're short on time, I can show you my motivation in one chart, prefaced with the fact that my Twitter account and my professional Facebook page have both been active since 2011: I earned more followers on my Twitter account in the past month than I have in several years of posting highly-relevant news content to my Facebook page. And, final