Patt Morrison for October 19, 2010

Mercer 6240
Yes and no—under a new law designed to give the public a more transparent view into how L.A. County monitors vulnerable children, the Department of Child & Family Services released figures yesterday showing the number of child deaths rose from 18 in 2008 to 26 last year. So far in 2010 20 deaths have been reported, on track to surpass last year’s figure. While this looks inflammatory on the surface it’s actually reflective of broader reporting standards that includes the deaths of children from causes other than homicides or abuses. It’s tough to gauge the performance of DCFS on these numbers alone, as the department has continued success in bringing down the number of kids in foster care, but is this an indictment of the department’s chief policy of reuniting children with their birth families? Tasked with one of the hardest and most thankless jobs in the county government, we look at the latest child death figures from DCFS and ask whether any policies should be changed as a result of this new data.
Mercer 11333
Mexican drug cartels have been active in the United States for some time, suspected to have carried out hits against competing drug dealers and also in a string of home invasion robberies in border towns like El Paso. But the indictments filed by federal authorities against 43 people in San Diego is eye opening to a vastly expanded Mexican cartel presence in the U.S., complete with franchising, store fronts and partnerships with Latino street gangs. Will we see the likes of Juarez here in California as Mexican drug cartels push to increase their U.S. presence?
Mercer 11326

Republican or Democrat? Oh, there are other options?

Anyone paying attention to California’s U.S. Senate seat race has heard of Democratic candidate Barbara Boxer and Republican candidate Carly Fiorina. But what about the Green Party candidate, the American Independent, Libertarian, or Peace and Freedom party candidates? They exist and they want your votes too. In America’s political landscape, third party candidates are often overlooked if not ignored. What do they have to say about the issues, and what will they do to best represent the people of California? Patt talks to U.S. Senate candidates from four third parties – each of them tells you what sets them apart from the other, and from the Democrats and Republicans.
Mercer 11328

At risk child-care workers may get jobs reprieve

Assembly Speaker John Perez has a new plan to protect the jobs of 60,000 child care workers, whose jobs are at risk because of the governor’s blue-pencil cuts to the budget. These jobs and the welfare of thousands of families are threatened by the Governor's veto of child care subsidies, and Perez sees “bridge” funding as a way to keep these programs going until funding can be restored by the Legislature. He’s here with the details.
Mercer 11327
Everyone has been delayed in an airport—rushing to make a holiday dinner, a business meeting or just a connecting flight, there are few worse feelings than staring at the airport marquee to see that your flight has been delayed. Even worse is being stuck on the plane itself while it sits on the tarmac for hours at a time. While it’s easy to quantify the elevated blood pressure and extreme frustration that a flight delay can cause it’s harder to estimate the economic damage of these delays, and the results are surprising. The total annual coast of flight delays to the U.S. economy is $32.9 billion according to a FAA-commissioned report released yesterday; airline passengers alone lost $16.7 billion. It’s easy to blame the airlines for these delays but there’s a lot of it to go around, especially at the nation’s antiquated air travel infrastructure, from overcrowded airports and runways to badly outdated air traffic control technology. Next time your delayed in the airport, the pain in the behind your feeling might have more to do with your wallet than your emotions.
Mercer 11329

Hey, Listen to This! Alex Ross on music

Alex Ross has heard it all, from Beethoven to Bjork. The music critic from the New Yorker trains our ears in his new book Listen to This, and you can listen to him. Guest host Frank Stoltze talks with the author and MacArthur genius about music—what it is, why we like (or hate) it and what it says about us. Finding common ground in concert hall oldies-but-goodies like Brahms, Schubert and Mozart, and modern pop icons such as Bob Dylan, Radiohead and Kurt Cobain, Ross surveys the world’s vast musical landscape and offers many a new way of understanding the world.
Find an archived Episode: