To say I was surprised is an understatement. I was amazed that several of this morning's callers admitted to taking money from California's In-Home Supportive Services program in exchange for doing little or no work. Others claimed they knew people who were approved to receive in-home care who didn't need it. Perhaps these were very isolated cases and not at all representative of the program. However, the admissions and allegations were eye-opening.
Supporters of in-home care claim that fraud is rare in the program. Unfortunately, data is hard to come by on either side. If there's not much fraud, how do you prove a negative? If there's widespread abuse, how do you quantify it?
Regardless, it's clear that many seniors and the disabled receive great benefit from the program. Proponents of it also argue that it the program saves the state tremendous amounts of money -- by keeping people out of nursing homes and by receiving half of program funding from the Feds.
Talking with author Peter Kilborn of "Next Stop, Reloville," I thought about the reasons I resisted going into radio when I graduated from college. Chief among them was my belief that it would be impossible to progress in broadcasting without moving from city to city. That was the model I saw from almost everyone who worked in Los Angeles radio or television. Even those who were originally from the Southland had to work in several smaller markets before they could get back here.
Though the market-to-market life wasn't for me, I'm impressed with how experienced "relo" families are able to make the next stop feel like home. I'm very much a creature of my physical surroundings, but resilient and adaptive "relo" families seem able to transcend location. In Kilborn's account, the cyber world has been quite helpful to serially relocating families by allowing them to stay connected with extended family and friends. There are distinct trade-offs and sacrifices made in exchange for this peripatetic corporate life. One of them being, as Kilborn writes, that interest in local politics is notably low among those who won't be around in a couple of years to see what changes are coming to their suburban communities.
I’m not surprised that some "AirTalk" listeners had no interest in hearing Michael Jackson's memorial event this morning. But I am taken aback at the tone of many of the comments about our decision that were made on the "AirTalk" page. The reasons that listeners gave for why we shouldn’t have aired the memorial were varied. Some thought Jackson’s eccentricities and the allegations of child abuse disqualified him from getting this level of attention. Others apparently thought his contributions to music weren’t significant enough. The news judgement we made in deciding to air the memorial is certainly worth debating. However, the bigger sense that I got was that some listeners felt betrayed – as though KPCC blindly followed the lead of commercial and cable news networks in deciding to air the service. They saw KPCC as sullied by carrying the local memorial of a man who provided years of tabloid stories, and whose death has been milked by broadcast media.
This morning we tapped into a passionate debate on whether the coverage of Michael Jackson's death is commensurate with his artistic and cultural importance. Some listeners have been critical of how we, and other media, have spent time looking at Jackson's legacy. Others have expressed surprise that we would even ask the question of whether the performer's artistic output merits intense attention -- they see it as clear that Jackson is worthy.
To me, the newsworthinesss of Michael Jackson's life is evident -- his influence on other performers, his innovations in dance, the role he played in establishing the popularity of music videos, the enormous sales of his albums, his global popularity, and the significance of his being in the public eye for 40 years. His unexpected death at a comparatively young age also factors into the level of interest we're seeing. I think there's also no question that his memorial service tomorrow at Staples Center will be a huge local event.
My family and I recently returned from a vacation that included time on the Navajo reservation in the Four Corners are of the Southwest. It's spectacularly beautiful country, juxtaposed with the serious economic challenges that reservation residents face. One major aspect of living in that region is how far a person needs to drive to do basic shopping or to see a doctor.
I was thinking about those distances while talking this morning about the proposal that Americans pay taxes by the mile, instead of per gallon of gasoline pumped. A Congressionally-appointed panel has recommended that the Federal government take the per-mile route over increasing gas taxes. I'm wondering how much that would cost the Navajo nation resident going from Kayenta, Arizona to Flagstaff for groceries. These are things we don't often consider until noticing the tremendous regional differences in our country.