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November 2008


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for November, 2008

Strong Writing And Good Grammar Can Make The Difference In Job Hunt

This week I’m sharing some thoughts from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference held in Detroit. I was very impressed with the keynote address given by automotive legend Bob Lutz, currently the Vice Chairman of Global Product Development for General Motors. Lutz returned to GM in 2001 to instill some passion back into the company after a period of producing what Lutz calls “bland cars”. This guy gets the value of communications. He is 67-years old and writes a blog called “GM’s Fastlane Blog”. Check it out. ( He told an audience of communications professionals that he sees the corporate blog as an opportunity to have a real dialogue with customers and to put GM’s message out to the public “unfiltered”. He likes the immediacy of the blog and the fact that it gives him an opportunity to skewer the media when they get it wrong.
Speaking of media, Lutz says communications professionals should view the media as an opportunity, not an obstacle. As a former reporter, I love hearing that. Lutz believes building relationships with key media is important, and you do that by listening carefully, avoiding condescension, and just being straight with them. Reporters are trained to view public relation professionals with skepticism. And they’ve had plenty of experiences to support the idea that a corporate press release is just spin.
Lutz paused during his speech to address a concern felt by many in the business community, including myself. “Allow me to take a minute to get on my soapbox and say that the general state of writing in the professional world is deplorable. And e-mail and text messaging aren’t helping any,” said Lutz. How many times have you seen the phrase, “sneak peek”, spelled “p-e-A-k”? Is that a clandestine mountain? Or seen the word ‘attain’ when it should be ‘OB-tain’? Lutz added, “Those who can express themselves precisely and effectively have a huge advantage over those who can’t. Period. And if you can go one step further and make it precise, effective and interesting, you really have something. Success inevitably follows.”
I couldn’t agree more. My firm, The Repovich Reynolds Group specializes in finding exceptional talent for corporations worldwide, in the core functions of communications, marketing, investor relations and finance. There’s my marketing plug. Unfortunately, Lutz’ criticism of the marketplace is accurate and ubiquitous. I see too many communications professionals with poor writing skills. Recently, I was hired to find a Director of Communications for a Fortune 1000 company. The lead candidate completed two rounds of interviews with executives, psychological testing, and a face-to-face meeting with the CEO. The company was ready to make an offer, pending the outcome of a writing test. The candidate failed. Careless writing errors cost the candidate the job. In this world of instant communications, where everyone has a megaphone; strong writing, accurate spelling and grammar still matter and can make the difference in your next job opportunity.

Fed Judge Orders Detroit Reporter To Give Deposition About Secret Sources

David Ashenfelter/photo-michigan journalism hall of fameThe contracted battle to get a Detroit Free Press reporter to give up his sources rages on in the Motor City. The matter is headed for a showdown.

BY M.L. Elrick
Free Press Staff Writer
DETROIT — U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland ruled Friday that Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter must appear for a deposition in a lawsuit, rejecting the newspaper’s bid to have a Washington, D.C., judge decide the matter.
Ashenfelter (pictured above)  wrote in 2004 that the Justice Department was investigating possible professional misconduct by Richard Convertino, a federal prosecutor in Detroit who oversaw a failed 2003 terrorism case. Convertino filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department in Washington and is seeking to question Ashenfelter about his sources.
Convertino was later indicted on charges of lying to a jury to win convictions in the terrorism case. He was acquitted.
Ashenfelter did not attend a deposition last month while the newspaper’s lawyer contested the deposition.Free Press Editor Paul Anger pledged to continue fighting the deposition.
“Freedom of the press and the public’s right to know are at stake here,” he said. “Sources can be valuable, and the case of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is just one recent example. Sources will not come forward to give the public information about the actions and possible misconduct of government officials if they fear retaliation. Those sources deserve protection, and so do reporters.”
For Full Story
Read Court Order
Read Column by Retired FBI Agent Greg Stejskal on Convertino
Other Stories of Interest

Feds Investigate Allegations That China Hacked U.S. Gov. Computers


Secret Service Agents Go on a Final Ride With Todd Palin

In the course of campaign, sometimes Secret Service agents warm up to the candidate, and sometimes they don’t. Apparently, some did warm up to Alaska’s celebrated hockey mom and the “first dude.”

By William Yardley
New York Times
The last public event at which Gov. Sarah Palin was accompanied by Secret Service agents during the 2008 campaign was on the day after the election, when she arrived home in Alaska on the McCain-Palin campaign plane. As the governor greeted supporters on the tarmac outside a charter jet hangar, agents formed the usual protective wall around the former vice-presidential candidate.
But that was not, apparently, the last the Palins saw of at least some of the agents.
On Thursday, according to the governor, her husband Todd, a four time champion of the Iron Dog snow machine race, took some of the agents out for a taste of his favorite subarctic sport.
“They were dying to know, ‘Well, what is that all about up there in Alaska?'” Ms. Palin said at the end of a brief interview in her office on Friday. “Well, they escorted us up to Alaska, so Todd took them out on machines. That was a blast.”
For Full Story

Feds Join Probe of N.Y. Black Muslim Teen Beaten By Anti-Obama Thugs

Not everyone was celebrating Obama’s victory on election day. In fact, in some places like New York the backlash was downright violent.

By John Marzulli
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — The feds have joined the investigation into the alleged attack of a black Muslim teenager by white thugs shouting “Obama!” on Election Day in Staten Island, authorities said Friday.
A spokesman for Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell said federal prosecutors and the FBI are reviewing with local authorities the attack on Ali Kamara, a student at Curtis High School.
The 17-year-old told police he was kicked and beaten with a baseball bat by four white men who were apparently furious that Barack Obama had been elected President.
For Full Story

Secret Service Crawling All Around Chicago

In Chicago, it’s no secret that the U.S. Secret Service is everywhere looking out for the president elect. The Times of London asks:  Will he be the most guarded president in history?

James Bone
Times of London
CHICAGO –– Barack Obama’s neighbourhood in Chicago has been turned into a virtual fortress as the Secret Service moves to protect the President-elect.
Assassination fears mean that Mr Obama, who was codenamed “Renegade” by his Secret Service detail on the campaign trail, will become perhaps the most heavily guarded president in history. Streets around his mock-Georgian mansion in the usually easy-going enclave by the University of Chicago have been closed. The main thoroughfare has been shut down because it passes his garden.
Visitors to the synagogue that faces his house must put their names on a list 24 hours before they attend so that their identities can be checked.
“I live one block away. I get ‘carded’ to go on my block,” said Adrienne Stone, 33, a US Air Force veteran. “I have become accustomed to the Secret Service being everywhere. I don’t get a lot of sleep. There are helicopters overhead. But he deserves this. We have lost too many leaders before their time,” she said.
Full Story

Hawaii Drug Laws Going to Pot

Over on the island of enchantment, marijuana enforcement is taking a backseat. The question is: How will that impact federal and local enforcement?

Hawaii Tribune-Herald
HILO, Hawaii – Hawaii County police and federal authorities say they will continue enforcing marijuana laws on the Big Island despite the passing of a ballot initiative making it the lowest priority for law enforcement.
Voters approved the measure 34,957 to 25,464 in Tuesday’s election. It was one of several victories for advocates of less punitive marijuana penalties. Massachusetts became the 13th state to decriminalize the herb; Michigan became the 13th state to legalize medical marijuana, and Fayetteville, Ark., also passed a resolution making marijuana the college town’s lowest law enforcement priority.
Other cities that have previously passed “lowest priority” initiatives in recent years include Denver, Seattle and Eureka Springs, Ark., as well as the California cities of Santa Barbara, Santa Monica and Oakland. In San Francisco and West Hollywood, similar measures were passed by elected officials.
Full Story

Justice Dept. Cuts Funds For Police Depts. That are Slow to Do DNA Tests

Whatever is going on, it’s terribly wrong. The bottom line is: crimes like rape are going unsolved because DNA tests aren’t being conducted in a timely fashion.

By Benjamin Protess and Joel Rubin
Los Angeles Times

Expecting nearly $1 million in federal grant money to help cover the cost of analyzing DNA evidence in rape cases and other violent crimes, the department was awarded only half that much.
U.S. Department of Justice officials, who distribute the money to police agencies nationwide, told LAPD staff that the fault was their own. The LAPD had been too slow to spend about half the DNA grant money awarded in prior years, so its 2008 allotment was reduced. Meanwhile, an audit found that more than 7,000 rape kits are waiting to be analyzed, the largest known backlog in the country.
As dire as LAPD’s problem is, it is hardly unique.
The Justice Department cut backlog funding this year to crime labs in 17 states, including California, because they had not spent federal grants dating as far back as 2004. About a quarter of the 105 law enforcement agencies that receive these grants had their funding docked, Justice Department officials said.

For Full Story