Sunday, April 10, 2011

A hike with my boys and all the snakes in our paths

Hiking near the covered bridge in Cuyahoga Falls on 4/10 .. we came across a ton of snakes .. here's the best of the highlights including my youngest son picking em up!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Post-911 G.I. Bill discriminates against Guardsmen, Reservists

This is a re-posting of a blog I wrote some months back .. but I'm hoping it will get a new look.

I applied for education benefits under the new Post-911 G.I. Bill, which just recently went into effect and offers the best college benefits to date for our men and women in uniform.

As a veteran of the Iraq War, I'm thrilled to have access to the funds as a way to further my education, but I'm a bit miffed that the system is set up to offer most Guardsmen and Reservists a reduced benefit compared to the Active Duty troops wearing the same uniforms.

Here's my gripe:

The bill provides a full 100 percent tuition for any service member who serves an aggregate period of 36 months on Active Duty after 9/11. So in short, if you serve three full years in uniform on Active Duty, you get a full ride for tuition. It doesn't matter where you served, just as long as you laced em up one boot at a time for a trio of years.

But if you only serve 12-18 months on Active Duty, your benefit is only 60 percent. That's how long most Guardsmen and Reservists serve as part of their deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan or other hot spots around the globe.

My point is: why should any reservist who served in a combat zone for a year+ only get partial tuition, while some other soldiers who never had to even wear their helmet or even think about carrying live ammo can get the full 100 percent simply because they were on a U.S. base for three years?

I'm not knocking those who didn't deploy overseas. I'm not. Clearly every military job is necessary and valuable, and I know that you go where Uncle Sam tells you to go. Dick Goddard always makes fun of his deployment to Iceland during the Korean War saying that "not one North Korean soldier got into Iceland when I was serving there!" It's his way of affirming that you go where Uncle Sam sends you, and you don't have to apologize.

But when it comes to this new benefit, I'm just saying that if someone whose job never had them leave the U.S. for three years is entitled to a full tuition benefit, shouldn't those who served 12-18 months in actual war zones be entitled to the same thing?

In most cases, the Guardsmen/Reservist actually put in more than just their official Active Duty time .. often in the form of months of train-up time in their home states .. as well as post-mobilization time in uniform as they begin attending monthly drills again. Yet, none of that time is considered when it comes to the new G.I. Bill.

Don't even get me started on the difference in retirement pay between Active Duty and the Guard/Reserve Forces ..

... but when it comes to this new education benefit, there's still time to make a change so that all of our heroes who stepped up when called get equal benefits.

Couldn't we change the eligibility to: 100 percent tuition for anyone who served either a) three total years in uniform since 9/11 OR b) at least ____ months in a combat zone?

Anyone in Washington listening?

The assignments to serve are the same, so why aren't the benefits? This is just one in a slew of benefits that are unfair to Guardsmen and Reservists, but nothing will change without someone recognizing the inequality.

Remember this: the Active Duty military CANNOT survive with the Guard and Reserves. It's literally drawn up that way. They CANNOT deploy in mass without additional Guard and Reserve forces being part of the package.  So why not even out the benefits, eh?

Okay . .I'm off my soapbox.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Running the bases .. running blog from Opening Day at Progressive Field

5:37 p.m.  Success! video successfully fed through the Internet. My work here is done.  Thanks to Rob Campbell with the Tribe and all the bloggers for a great experience. Tribe down 15-7 in the bottom of the 7th .. still hope, eh?  It's been so great to get back to blogging today .. I've soooo missed this .. more to come!

5:29 p.m. Having some website issues but it looks like my video went through .. 14-7 now .. nice to see the Tribe add a few, but still need 7 more with only two innings. I was convinced the 6p news wouldn't start on time, but with two innings to go, it's still possible to be done in time .. if no more runs are scored. Thought for a short time that the producers wouldn't need my 6p story but it looks like it'll be close!

5:07 p.m.  I've been editing my story and am now feeding it back via the web.  Sox up 14-4.  If the Tribe comes back from this, they'll make a movie.  If this wasn't the opener, I think some fans would be leaving .. but hey, it's a nice friday and it's baseball, right? I'm having a great time getting to know these bloggers.

4:30 p.m.  14-0 Sox .. where do I begin? Just did some interviews and then edited them for the 6p news, which will likely be pre-empted now that this game is going long. I'll be feeding the soundbites back via

4:11 p.m.  Tribe down 6-0 .. Curtis just brought in the baseball used in the opening ceremonies so that all of the bloggers could see it and tweet/post it around the world. I got to hold it! Very cool. It's signed by Ann Feller, Bob's widow, and will be kept in the Tribe's own museum.  About 10 bloggers here now. Most are inside cuz the breeze is a bit tough .. and the team is getting thumped.  Here's the ball:

3:47 p.m. 2-0 Sox .. bottom of second .. just wrote some of my broadcast copy for channel 3 News at 6 and 7. I'm still amazed that technology lets me sit at the ballpark and yet I can write copy for a news anchor to read at another location. In a few minutes, I'll be shooting video too and then feed it via the Internet. Even though I use the technology every day, I'm still amazed some days ..

3:31 p.m.  2-0 Sox .. bottom of first . .tribe got a base runner .. so much fun to have game going. Blogger from here now ..
My story from earlier is now on-line showing off the social media site

3:20 p.m.  White Sox up 1-0 .. Carmona missed on strikeout of Konerko and he made em pay on next pitch.  Looking for double play ball but gets strikeout instead.  So five batters .. three hits and two strikeouts ... social suite nearly full now .. good conversation .. oddly, i'm the only one blogging right now .. will be interviewing a few of them in a moment for tonight's story on WKYC

3:12 p.m.  First pitch and we're off .. and the first foul landed 10 feet from us! Lot of empty seats in the upper deck .. lots of folks standing in the sun rather than hiding in the cold ..

3 p.m.  Feller tribute was very, very well done .. Giant flag and balloons make for a colorful, sunny opening day.  Looks like we'll start right on time too .. great job by the Tribe to make it happen .. the social media suite is busier now .. about 7 bloggers are now here and doing their thing ..

2:50 p.m.  Tribe players now being introduced .. just amazing to see them ALL wearing number 19 in memory of Bob Feller ... with the background music .. it's really well done

2:42 p.m.  Dominic Litten from Points to Point is here now .. he's among the multiple bloggers who are returning from last year's social media deck .. he's glad to have the suite as well .. Tom Hamilton is now on the field leading the pre-game festivities .. the weather is awesome .. Carmona is still soft tossing in the outfield around the balloons.  These bloggers are a riot .. they love to chat and talk baseball ..

2:30 p.m.  Checking rundowns to see how we will script our 6 and 7p broadcasts. Days like these, we have no idea if the game will go short or long .. so we always have to prepare for the worst case scenario .. and often times, we put together stories that never make air .. especially if the game goes long .. here come the military honor guards .. about ready to get started!

2:20 p.m.  Scott from WFNY is here now as well . .the food is getting a workout . ha .. the pre-game stuff with Bob Feller is set to start soon .. fans are asked to be in their seats by 2:30 p.m. but many are still streaming in .. not much of a breeze, but enough to let you feel the chill.   I feel like I need additional hands .. blogging, tweeting, and then also facebook .. plus i have to shoot and edit a story at some point ..

2:08 p.m.  Giant banners of Bob Feller, including a giant jersey, are now being hung on the outfield walls ... the first pitch is expected to be special too. Feller's widow putting the ball on the mound and just leaving it there .. grounds crew is working the baseballs off right now ..

2:01 p.m.  Rick Grayshock from WFNY is here now .. he's from Lima and writes for ... great to have some company here now!  chilly in the shade ..

1:51 p.m. White Sox now done with warm ups and the grounds crew is moving in to get the field ready for the ceremonies. As a journalist, can I tell you that it feels really bad to be celebrating on opening day when a Springfield Police Officer is in bad shape after being hit overnight by a suspected drunk driver. On any other day, that's the story I'd be chasing.  My colleague, Paul Thomas, is covering the story and will have more tonight after the game.  Just being honest .. tough day for those in law enforcement and those who love and support them

1:36 p.m. Liveshot went great ... camera crew now mauling the food!  ha!  Ed Esposito from WAKR stopping in to say hello.  First bloggers from Dayton have arrived .. the social suite will be busy.  Sox still taking BP .. lots of fans in stands trying to get autographs and foul balls ... Rob Campbell from indians just stopped in .. the guy never stops smiling!

1:18 p.m.  White sox shortstop just threw wild during infield practice and hit a photographer in the thigh. Ouch!

1:14 p.m.  The entire pre-game show is being streamed live to so give it a look-see on-line ..

1:03 p.m.  Top of the show went clean .... Jim and Romona sound great ... White Sox now taking BP.. Plenty of folks in the outfield now hoping to snag a home run ball ... others on the home run porch.  Great to hear "welcome to the show" playing on the speakers as the gates opened for opening day.  By the way, one of the stadium announcers is Ryan Pritt -- a great guy who was a student of mine when I taught part-time at the University of Akron a few years ago. He's great!

12:56 p.m.  Mic checks are done. I'm using a cell phone in back pocket to get my cues ... and we're off!  gates just opened and here come the fans .. feels like opening day for sure!

12:44 p.m.  Microphone and earpiece checks .. can't hear well .. might have to switch to earbuds and a cell phone to hear the toss from Romona ..

12:29 p.m.  The progressive truck in centerfield is open now .. guess they're loading it with goodies to launch once the tribe hits some home runs.  I'm told it doesn't have an engine and it stayed there all off-season.
Just got a station e-mail that Anchor Jeff Maynor is retiring and this Sunday will be his last show. Jeff, wishing you all the best ... a great guy with a great voice .. and I've always enjoyed working together. Best of luck my friend!

12:18 p.m . A few tribe players have reached the seats with home runs during batting practice. Can't tell who though since they are all wearing coverups ..

12:08 p.m.  None of the other bloggers have arrived yet, but they'll be greeted with joy .. the food here is amazing. Just sampled the carribean pork wings .. unreal .. great stuff.   Tribe still stretching and taking some soft toss.  Lots of media near the tribe dugouts for the noon live broadcasts across town.  Pre-game on Channel 3 starts at 1pm!

11:57 a.m.  Stadium crews are bringing food and more into the suite .. getting it ready for the national bloggers .. included on the menu are different foods from different parts of the ballpark.  The tribe is now on the field stretching .. fans are outside the gates .. ready to roll in .. oh, and it's picture perfect weather .. a bit chilly, but sunshine is great!

11:51 a.m.   Videogapher Barry Wolfe and Producer Brandon Simmons are with me now in the suite .. they're testing the connection on our mobile three camera for our scheduled liveshot at 1:24 p.m. during the pre-game broadcast on TV3.  So far, the connection is good .. fingers crossed. 

Oooh .. the fridge is open .. diet pepsi here I come.

Tribe Opening Day -- back to baseball and blogging

I'm back!  Just like the Tribe.
Blogging from the tribe's new social media suite along third base at Progressive Field.  Here's my seat!

I'm in here already getting ready for our pre-game show that starts at 1 p.m.  Later today, this suite will be filled with bloggers including:






@caralageson / @YelpCleveland

@dawgpndgirl / @clevelanddotcom
@craigcalcaterra / @HardballTalk

so you can find em on social media .. anyway .. more pics and more info to come! 

Stadium is not yet open to fans, but the media and stadium crews are hard at work.

As for the blog, I'm back baby! I've really missed being able to blog and weigh on the big topics .. so much of my non-on-air time has been spent on shooting, editing, facebook, and other social media .. that the blog time hasn't been there ..
anyway .. would love to hear from you throughout the day!  Go Tribe!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Akron's predictions for police layoffs, others are staggering

I don't know if I can find the right words to describe a layoff of 60-90 Akron Police Officers or more.  Probably because I'm friends with so many of them from over the years. I always tell people that Akron is a big city, but a small town - translation: we don't need six degrees of separation to know who is who.

The city's prediction of a year-end deficit of $4 million is staggering considering all the cuts we've seen in the last 18 months.  Early retirements, buyouts, etc .. shouldn't that have helped us beyond this?

I spoke in depth with FOP President Paul Hlynsky last week and then with Mayor Plusquellic by phone today. Both are passionate about their positions and both agree they want to save jobs, every single one they can.

But can they work together to make it a reality?

Whether it's 10 officers or 100, police layoffs will hurt the city. Without the Akron Schools to hire more (not going to happen) or some other revenue source coming in in the next few weeks (maybe the COPS grant the Mayor applied for in Washington), we ARE going to see layoffs in Akron in the next month.

One local leader told me there has been talk of a study to limit the department to two officers per every 1,000 residents.  That would give us a police force of around 400 give or take.  That's a lot less than we have now. Would a force that size really work in Akron?

City Hall has NOTHING to gain by cooking the books to make us look poor and let people go. 

APD has NOTHING to gain by playing chicken with a budget crisis.

Akron has EVERYTHING to lose if we can't find middle ground.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lynn France on Today Show

Lynn France, who first shared her story with Channel 3 News, shares her identity and more with the Today Show. What would you do in her shoes?