Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Lobdell: Clues To Shawkey/Smith Absence

William Lobdell, former Los Angeles Times reporter, former editor and current columnist on the Daily Pilot, demonstrates to us that he's still got the chops for good investigative reporting in his column that appears in print this morning.

The colum
n, titled, " Chief's expense reports offer clues", quantifies some serious sleuthing Lobdell has been doing recently with "more than 200 pages of public documents", apparently including expense reports for Costa Mesa Police Chief Christopher Shawkey and his top aide, Captain Ron Smith. You can read the entire article HERE.

It looks like Lobdell may be onto something with his analysis of the reports, which appear to present evidence of misuse of city credit cards for fuel purchases at places far remote from Costa Mesa, and in excessive amounts, to boot.

Apparently Smith was required to countersign the expense reports of his boss, Shawkey - which, Lobdell postulates - might be why both men were placed on leave together late last year. It seems c
urious for a subordinate to countersign expense reports for his boss.


I don't know whether any of the information Lobdell has presented represent real problems - it's possible they are legitimate expenses - but one reason a good reporter will look for these kind of things is the lack of information coming from the City on this issue. Unless and until the City provides an explanation it's very likely these kinds of investigations will continue - and more questions will be raised about the behavior of our public officials.


If the facts as Lobdell has presented to us are factual, then he deserves kudos for digging this information up and presenting to the public. He promises to "keep digging", and he's a guy with the right kind of shovel and knows how to find the right places to dig.

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Anonymous Something is rotten... said...

Before you get all warm inside over Lobdell, again, you should demand to know the details of these "public documents." When and where did they come from? This is very sloppy journalism, and if it is discovered that someone inside the department supplied them to him, he will have severely hurt the credibility of the Daily Pilot and should resign.

1/04/2011 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Something is rotten, I suspect, but don't know, that Lobdell - a journalist for more than two decades, an editor of the Daily Pilot and an award-winning author, has covered his bases. I don't know if he received these public documents via a "public records request" - that would be the normal procedure. If he received them from an unauthorized source the city will certainly be aware of it and raise a stink. So far no noise that I've heard from City Hall on this issue.

1/04/2011 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger CM Resident said...

I cannot comment on whether or not Lobdell's reporting is "sloppy journalism", accurate, or otherwise. He is however buddies w/ Righeimer and that friendship is clearly represented in many/most of Lobdell's recent articles, which either blatently or subtley support Righeimer and Righiemer's agenda.

Righeimer has an ax to grind w/ the Police Union; makes one wonder if Lobdell is getting a little "help" with his info?

1/04/2011 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Kent Morrow said...

In November you wrote,"It is unlikely that Roeder will address this at all because it's a personnel matter and subject to very strict rules about protection of individual rights." Now we have an investigative reporter going over "public documents?" And suggesting that tax dollars were used inappropriately? And it has only been 6 weeks.

1/05/2011 07:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Something is rotten said...

It is a mistake to suspect or assume that ANY journalist has covered his bases. Surely you are familiar with the long list of formerly credible journalists who have lied, cut corners and fabricated over the past few years. I have writing awards, too - so what? Here, the situation is clear: Protocol requires that a journalist cites his sources in detail. There is no other way of writing it. If these are truly, public documents, it is even more sloppy that he did not cite the source by simply writing that he found them online, requested and received them from the department or filed a request under the CPRA. Until he states otherwise, the source is suspect and the story is not credible. The Pilot editors are at fault here, too, for they should have asked Lobdell to include the direct source. Readers deserve to know the exact source of these documents and if it turns out that Lobdell did receive them from someone in the department, it is an unforgivable breach of ethics and I stand by my earlier position that he should resign.

1/05/2011 09:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Something is rotten said...

P.S. If you want to read how it is supposed to be done, look no further than Frank Mickadeit's column in today's Register, where he writes, "On Monday, I went to City Hall and requested the file on the property," and "Court records show..." No amiguity here and complete journalistic integrity.

1/05/2011 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Something is rotten said...

Curious... At least one CMPD officer, Rob Drimel, reads your blog. It would be good to know what he knows about the availability of these documents and the extent of any issues with the chief among the rank and file. Ofcr.?....

1/06/2011 08:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

Something-I know as much about Chief Shawkey's circumstances as anyone else here. And that is pretty much nothing. I have gotten my news from the same sources; the Daily Pilot. There is no "scuttlebutt" running around the PD and frankly, I discount the "I heard..." accounts of anything.

It would be be improper for me to air an grievances of the chief that the rank and file might have. Everyone has "gripes" about their boss, and he is in fact still our boss.

1/06/2011 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Jokerman949 said...

Mr. Dimel: First, I apologize for spelling your name incorrectly. Second, I believe you may have answered the question as to the public nature of these documents. If they are so public, it seems to me that the rank and file would have known about this weeks ago and would not have a second thought about the resulting developments. Still, Mr. Lobdell refuses to provide the full details of the source of these "public documents." Mr. Lobdell, I know you read this blog: If you have nothing to hide, adhere to proper journalistic protocol and give us the full details of where you got these public documents.

1/07/2011 12:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob Dimel said...

Joker-My guess is that any documents discovered are public, it's just that no one has really had the gumption to make the request up until this point.

It would only be a matter of someone with the time, interest and "know how" to make the request for the right documents. Financials are the first place I would look, which it appears that's what Mr. Lobdell did.

I don't know that what he has "uncovered" is the true problem, but in any case he makes a good argument.

Just because documents are "public" does not mean they are published. The only way anyone in the rank and file would have known anything about this is if they had made their own CAPRA request. I am sure most officers figure we will know when it's time to know. Frankly, we have a job to do day-in and day-out. Our mission doesn't change regardless of what is happening up on the "gold carpet".

1/08/2011 02:50:00 PM  

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