2006 First Place Writing Winner

In their own words…

“I’ve known since I was 15 that I loved journalism, but the Hearst Competition made me realize just how much I really adore the field. I can’t remember another time when I squeezed so much stress and so much fun into such a short time. I made some great friends that week, and not just fellow writers. I met interesting, talented people in all competing mediums. As different as broadcast and print had seemed to me, I realized it all comes down to reporting the news as best we can. Those few days in San Francisco will forever stand out as a defining moment in my career. I couldn’t have asked for a more challenging, exciting, fun and educational trip.”

News Story

Interview with Mayor Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown’s run for California Attorney General will no doubt involve issues, but it will also involve money, and lots of it.

Half a year of campaigning lies ahead for the Oakland mayor, who beat Los Angeles city attorney Rocky Delgadillo in the California Attorney General Democratic primary Tuesday.

“It’s a combat of money and consultants and 30-second commercials,” Brown said.

He will continue spending millions as he shifts his attention from defeating Delgadillo to beating the Republican candidate, state Sen. Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno.

In past elections, the Oakland mayor would accept donations of no more than $100.

But now, he accepts the maximum $5,600 per individual. Candidates will easily spend $2 million a week, and if it gets really intense, maybe $3 million, Brown said.

“You can’t run statewide without money in California,” said Corey Cook, an assistant professor of political science at San Francisco State University. “California has enormous media markets and it’s exceptionally expensive to run.”

Candidates need to buy their access through mailers and television advertisements because the news doesn’t cover campaigns in a serious way, Brown said.

“If you don’t show up on television, then you’re not there,” he said. “You become a minor candidate.”

Competition for attention will be even tougher in the general election, Cook said.

“This current election is about raising money, getting endorsements from key folks and doing a lot of direct mail,” he said. “The airwaves will be blanketed and direct mail will be all over the place.”

Poochigian will also use paid advertisements in the race, as is crucial for anyone running for state office, Poochigian’s press secretary Seth Unger said.

“It’s such a vast state with over 35 million people,” he said. “If you run a campaign without paid media, you will not have a chance to reach all the voters.”

But Poochigian won’t be Brown’s only competition. With an election that includes a governor’s race and many legislative proposals, Brown will have to fight for advertising space and attention with everyone else involved in the November election, Cook said.

So until November 2, Brown’s top campaign priority is to raise as much money as he can.

“Most of the time is spent raising money, and then thinking about how to spend it the last 4 or 5 weeks in the campaign,” he said.

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Personality/Profile Article

Interview with Mayor Jerry Brown

After nearly 40 years of running for political offices, the man known as Governor Moonbeam said he’s relying on his dullness to win his most recent race.

“That’s really the secret plan in American politics, is dullness,” said Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who won the democratic primary for the California Attorney General on Tuesday. “It just requires a certain amount of discipline, unless you’re dull by nature.”

But most would say Brown, who was nicknamed for his far-out ideas, is not “dull by nature,” and neither is his resume.

He was the California Secretary of State, a two-term California governor, ran for president three times, lead the California Democratic Party, hosted a radio show, studied Zen Buddhism in Japan and volunteered with Mother Theresa in India.

Instead of a traditional portrait, the painting of Brown displayed in the state capitol is impressionistic, which captures his essence, said Corey Cook, an assistant professor of political science at San Francisco State University.

“The way you look at it determines what you see,” he said. “There are many different Jerry Browns.”

For this election, he is trying to be more moderate, Cook said of some Brown’s stances that seem different from his past ideals.

The mayor said it’s all strategy.

“There is a statistical law by convergence to the mean … convergence to mediocrity,” he said. “So this is a very good plan to make sure that we don’t deviate to either end … and stick right in the middle.”

That way, you don’t get negative press, he said.

Brown’s experience gives him an incredible insight on the political game, Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente said.

“His style is kind of a provoking style. He kind of really challenges people; he likes to argue with people,” he said. “He explores too much; he thinks too much about issues.”

Brown is known for his short attention span and not following through on issues, as pointed out by Cook and other local political analysts.

“He does have a reputation for being someone who is impatient with what he perceives as stayed, unimaginative bureaucracies,” said Tim Hodson, executive director of the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State University.

But Brown said he’s learned the realities of government in his nearly 40 years in the political spotlight.

“We always need to be changing things up, but on the other hand, we need a certain steady management in order to get things done,” Brown said. “I understand more how difficult it is to alter institutions.”

Henry Brady, a political science and public policy professor University of California, Berkeley, agreed that Brown usually wasn’t one to follow through with things, but said he’s improved.

“He’s sort of reinventing himself, (from being the) chair of the California Democratic Party, and then becoming Mayor of Oakland,” Brady said.

When asked what he’ll do if not elected, Brown said he can’t even think about losing.

“Defeat is not an option,” he said.

But with all he’s done, what shall be inscribed on Brown’s epitaph is still up in the air.

“I don’t think we know, actually, the legacy of Jerry Brown,” Brady said. “He’s always off to somewhere else, and you never know quite which way he’s going to go next.”

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Spot News


Clad in white chef coats and black and white checkered pants, about ten kitchen workers at a restaurant in the Southern Market area took a break on the sidewalk outside the nearby gas station before Thursday’s dinner rush.

Between puffs on his cigarette, Benjamin Wrubel spoke about undocumented immigrants who work behind the scenes in restaurants throughout San Francisco and the country.

They usually hold lower level positions, work longer for less money and are often threatened with being turned over to federal authorities, he said.

He believes undocumented immigrants affect the restaurant business, but Wrubel doesn’t think pending immigration laws will affect the industry.

“No one’s actually going to do anything about it; it’s just legislation,” said Wrubel, who said he’s not an undocumented immigrant.

But to another kitchen worker sitting a few feet away, the issue brings much more distress.

This undocumented immigrant from Mexico said he’s worried restaurants won’t employ immigrants if laws are passed that increase penalties for hiring undocumented workers.

Their options are already narrow because of the need for documentation to work most places.

“If you don’t have documents, you’re going to do the job nobody wants to do,” he said. “If you don’t have a job, how are you supposed to survive?”

When asked if it’s more common for immigrants working at restaurants to have documents or not, he laughed.

They have documents, but most have fake ones, he said.

Since restaurants require documentation proving applicants are authorized to work in the country, many undocumented workers use false documents, he said, adding that he’s one of them.

It’s just like an 18 year old getting a fake ID to say he is old enough to drink alcohol, he said.

Management at the restaurant could not be contacted for comment.

These undocumented immigrants make up a significant portion of restaurant kitchen jobs, people in the industry said, including Jordan Traverso, spokeswoman for the California Restaurant Association.

“Nobody is blind to the fact that there’s an undocumented work force,” Traverso said of California’s restaurant industry. “You know it’s out there, you know it’s happening, but how are you going to tell?”

But it’s not just San Francisco or California that’s affected. Undocumented immigrants work throughout the country.

There are about 12 million unauthorized migrants in the country, and they accounted for 12 percent of the food preparation jobs in March 2005, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

Immigrants — those with legitimate documents, unlawful documents, or no documents — have varied effects on the industry, people involved in immigrant work and the restaurant business have said.

“I don’t think the city would be maintained the way it is without immigrants,” said Rael Silva, an organizer for Young Workers United, a labor support group based in San Francisco. “Nobody would be able to eat if we were not here; all the jobs are performed by immigrants.”

Thousands of people — Silva estimated 100,000 — took to San Francisco streets May 1 for “A Day Without Immigrants” protest against pending legislation that could make it harder for immigrants to live and work in the United States.

More than a million protested nation-wide.

“If we really had a day without an immigrant, the city would not be working; the city would have to go home to cook,” he said. “The economy would be extremely affected.”

But more it’s much more involved than the issue of eating out.

“(Immigrants) provide a labor force that is less expensive for businesses, easier to abuse, but at the same time, we — because I’m an immigrant too — we bring hard workers that do perform jobs that other people wouldn’t do,” said Silva, an immigrant from Peru.

Companies would lose money if undocumented immigrants left or were forced out of their jobs, because training an employee costs money, time and equipment, Traverso said.

“Having to fill that position to a new person and retraining is another cost,” she said.

The entire workforce is not expected to grow very quickly the next ten years, said Chrissy Shott, spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association.

Workers between the ages of 16 and 24 make up about half the restaurant industry’s workforce, and this age group is not expected to grow at all in next 10 years, Shott said.

“(There’s) a shortage of having individuals to serve customers, no workforce available and since immigrants do play a large part of our industry, we want to continue to have opportunities available to them,” Shott said.

For now, the undocumented worker from the SOMA restaurant will keep “doing the job no one else wants to do,” hoping the government won’t deport him.

Please note: The name of the undocumented worker and the restaurant where he works were omitted to maintain his anonymity.

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