Selected Portfolio

“Up in smoke?” POLITICO, Oct. 8, 2014, page 1.
There’s a new battle brewing over smoking in the military. Congress and the Defense Department are mulling over a potential ban on selling tobacco products — cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco — on military bases and ships in an effort to curb high smoking rates, but critics argue the move would be unfair to service members who already are making significant sacrifices.

“The Pentagon’s ‘ISIS’ problem,” POLITICO, Sept. 12, 2014.
The Islamic State’s acronym has infiltrated the Pentagon. An obscure program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency shares the same four-letter acronym, ISIS, as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — also called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL — the Islamic extremist group that President Barack Obama has vowed to destroy.

“The Rand Paul pile-on,” POLITICO, July 14, 2014.
If you had any doubts about how seriously some Republicans are taking the notion of a Rand Paul presidency, look at how far they’re going to shut down his views on foreign policy.

“Veterans fast vanishing from halls of Congress,” POLITICO, July 9, 2014, page 1.
Only 20 percent of today’s lawmakers have served in the military, the lowest rate since World War II and a dramatic fall from over 70 percent in the 1970s. And that figure could sink even lower after this fall’s midterms.

“Defense contractors wary of a ‘Chairman’ John McCain,” POLITICO, June 26, 2014.
There’s at least one reason some in the defense industry are rooting for Democrats to keep control of the Senate: the prospect of Chairman John McCain.

“Can Eric Shinseki survive the VA scandal?” POLITICO, May 21, 2014, page 1.
One of the first stories raising the question of whether then-Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki would be forced to resign — before the wagons began circling that ultimately led to his downfall.

“At Pentagon, pre-emptive budget strikes,” The Hill, Feb. 9, 2014.
Lawmakers are trying to strong-arm the Pentagon into saving favored programs and pet projects ahead of the release of its 2015 budget next month.

“In shutdown, some wiggle room,” The Hill, Oct 6, 2013.
The Obama administration appears to have plenty of wiggle room when it comes to exactly how it implements the government shutdown.

“Sen. Graham suggests US boycott Winter Olympics in Russia over Snowden,” The Hill, July 17, 2013, page 1.
President Obama should consider boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia if the Cold War-era foe gives asylum to Edward Snowden, Sen. Lindsey Graham told The Hill on Tuesday.

“Obama campaigned against military base closures now in his budget,” The Hill, April 11, 2013, page 1.
President Obama released a defense budget Wednesday calling for new military base closures — less than a year after he said on the campaign trail that the closings were not in the cards.

“Defense firms hold off on spending,” The Hill, April 27, 2014, page 1.
Lobbying for the top defense contractors remained mostly flat in the first three months of 2012 compared to last year despite the threat of sequestration that could hit the Pentagon budget with an additional $500 billion in across-the-board spending cuts.

“In Congress, no one beats the influential beat lobby,” Star Tribune, Feb. 7, 2012, page A1.
American Crystal Sugar has become one of the country’s most powerful lobbying groups, doling out cash contributions to lawmakers at levels approaching big-business groups like the American Bankers Association. And it’s all for a single objective: To guarantee tariffs and price supports allow sugar beet farmers to make money, even if it drives the cost of sugar above the global market.

“Bachmann campaign relies on repeat donors,” Star Tribune, Oct. 23, 2011, page A1.
Cindy Boyd has dealt Michele Bachmann fundraising blackjack. The Pagosa Springs, Colo., resident donated to Bachmann 21 times as the Minnesota Republican was gearing up to run for president this spring, then gave again two more times last month. Each contribution was for $50 or less, federal election records show.

“Rep. Cravaack toils to build his record,” Star Tribune, July 25, 2011, page A1.
Cravaack, 52, shocked the political world when he upset U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar in 2010. Now he’s the incumbent who has to run on his record in Congress — a record already under fire from Democrats concerning Medicare and the debt limit.

“Hand-off on Iron Range is rocky,” Star Tribune, Dec. 10, 2010, page A1.
I broke open the story about a fight over constituent casework — and a literal lack of communication — as Minnesota’s Eighth District congressional seat changed hands for the first time in 40 years.

“Bachmann’s bid shows GOP divide,” Star Tribune, Nov. 15, 2010, page A1.
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann headed off an intra-party fight when she dropped her bid for a House leadership spot, but her candidacy showcased the divisions surrounding the Tea Party’s newfound presence inside the Republican Party.

“A ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal won’t heal all” Star Tribune, August 16, 2010, page A1.
Macalester College student William Gordon knew that once he sent the letter, his military career was likely over.

“Scratchers won’t find $1M prize,” The Indianapolis Star, July 6, 2008, page A1.
My story revealed that scratch-off tickets were sold up to 45 days after all top prizes had been given away, a policy that was ended a week later.

“A road to peace in Israel that neither Jews nor Palestinians will travel,” Santa Clara University Capstone, June 13, 2008.
I traveled to Israel for more than two weeks reporting this story, living in the “Oasis of Peace,” a half-Israeli, half-Palestinian village where the two sides choose to live as neighbors and equals. My story is about the youth of the village, who have shown they can slowly erase the problems of deep political conflict, though they live in a way that mainstream Jews and Palestinians reject.

“Breach of Trust,” Bay Area News Group, March 30, 2008, page A1.
The first in a four part series revealing the full extent of Catholic priest abuse in the Diocese of Oakland. I had bylines on three of the four articles and took the lead writing the third story. The series won a 2008 Public Service Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors Association.
Day 2: Leadership disregard
Day 3: Abuse was common in religious orders
Day 4: Dealing with the demons

“Santa Clara’s underground coke scene,” The Santa Clara, April 19, 2007, page 1.
A detailed look at Santa Clara’s underground world of students who use cocaine and the student-dealers who provide it for them. This story won two national awards for feature writing and in-depth reporting.

Extended portfolio

“Growing military action could boost Iraq vote pressure,” POLITICO, Aug. 21, 2014.
The rising numbers of U.S. airstrikes and troops deploying to Iraq could increase pressure on a Congress that has so far been reluctant to hold a vote on military action there.

“Base closings play into campaigns,” POLITICO, June 24, 2014, page 1.
A specter is haunting Tuesday’s Senate primary in Mississippi and many other midterm races around the country: BRAC. The intraparty showdown between the Magnolia State’s long-serving Republican Sen. Thad Cochran and his tea party challenger, Chris McDaniel, not only pits the old guard against the new and the Republican establishment against the tea party. It has also become the latest test zone for the politics of the base realignment and closure process.

“2 tech firms shun inside game,” POLITICO, June 8, 2014.
SpaceX and Palantir came to Washington expecting a receptive audience for what they presented as game-changing new products. Instead, the California companies have become mired in Capitol Hill drama.

“Dems join GOP in Eric Shinseki pile on,” POLITICO, May 29, 2014, page 1.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s support on Capitol Hill crumbled on Wednesday as members of his own party deserted him in the aftermath of a highly critical inspector general report that found “systemic” problems at VA medical facilities.

“Defense company stocks have soared since sequester’s ax fell,” The Hill, April 3, 2013, page 1.
The biggest defense companies’ share values have soared faster than the stock market since sequester spending cuts began on March 1.


“Pawlenty donors flock to Perry,” Star Tribune, Oct. 18, 2011, page A1.
Tim Pawlenty is stumping for Mitt Romney, but his former donors have been flocking to Rick Perry since the Minnesota governor dropped his presidential bid.

“Bachmann confronts a high hurdle in Florida,” Star Tribune, Sept. 22, 2011, page A8.
TAMPA, FLA. – Florida fundraiser Bill Diamond wanted to work for presidential candidate Michele Bachmann but instead is raising money for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“Bachmann’s vaccine claim draws fire,” Star Tribune, Sept. 14, 2011, page A1.
What looked initially like a winning debate point for Michele Bachmann has prompted a chorus of protest against the Minnesota Republican, with some of the most scathing comments coming from her fellow conservatives.

“At GOP debate, Bachmann pushes back hard,” Star Tribune, Sept. 13, 2011, page A1.
TAMPA, FLA. – Michele Bachmann climbed back into the GOP presidential conversation on Monday, ramping up her attacks on GOP rivals Rick Perry and Mitt Romney in a Florida debate.

“Candidates tap a new cash cow: Super PACs,” Star Tribune, Aug. 22, 2011, page A1.
Michele Bachmann’s powerful fundraising force has gained some superpower.

“Pawlenty tries to be hawk in presidential field’s flock,” Star Tribune, June 28, 2011, page A4.
NEW YORK – Seeking to position himself as the hawk of the 2012 presidential field, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty hammered at President Obama and Republican rivals Tuesday in his first presidential campaign speech on foreign policy.

“In 2012, a new world for online campaigning,” Star Tribune, June 28, 2011, page A1.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Michele Bachmann and other potential 2012ers are planning online campaigns that could make President Obama’s pioneering 2008 campaign look like something out of the era of America Online and 56k modems.

“Franken ratchets up rhetoric in war against corporate power,” Star Tribune, Sept. 6, 2010, page A1.
U.S. Sen. Al Franken sees a nation increasingly dominated by powerful corporations, and he doesn’t like it.

“Erlinder acknowledges suicide attempt in jail,” Star Tribune, June 15, 2010, page B1.
One of numerous stories the Star Tribune’s Washington bureau broke after St. Paul law professor Peter Erlinder was arrested in Rwanda, this article was pieced together with some startling details thanks to audio recordings obtained of Erlinder testifying in court.

“Frank battles for transgender workers’ rights,” The Boston Globe, May 14, 2010, page A2.
Three years ago, Representative Barney Frank dropped transgender individuals from his bill to protect gays and lesbians in the workplace in order to get it passed in the House. Now Frank has vowed to keep transgender rights in his current measure, despite opposition from some key moderates that could derail the proposal.

“’07 slaying by Rio police has man’s kin on mission,” The Boston Globe, May 6, 2010, page B1.
The killing of a Massachusetts man by Rio police has turned his family into outspoken advocates for curbing police violence in Brazil, and the family persuaded Congress to examine the issue.

“Lynch explains road to reconciliation,” The Boston Globe, March 23, 2010, page A10.
Representative Stephen Lynch explains why he was one of just two Democrats who voted against the historic health reform bill but then voted in favor of the Senate reconciliation bill.

“Google’s DC ties worry some consumer advocates,” The Boston Globe, March 10, 2010, page A8.
Scott Brown’s campaign staff members liked to say the Republican senator’s underdog campaign was “powered by Google.” But some consumer advocates worry that Google’s growing business in campaign advertising will give it an unfair advantage in Washington, where it also is pursuing a broad lobbying agenda.

“Campaign financing shift may aid critics,” The Boston Globe, Feb. 24, 2010, page A1.
The Supreme Court’s watershed decision on campaign finance, lamented by critics who say it gives undue influence to corporations, could strengthen the very advocacy groups that oppose the ruling.

“Frank leads push to disband mortgage corporations,” The Boston Globe, Jan. 31, 2010, page A3.
Barney Frank was once among the staunchest defenders of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but then he reversed course and said they should be abolished.

“Frank gets delay in law restricting Net casinos,” Dec. 14, 2009, The Boston Globe, page A1.
My first story freelancing in Washington for The Boston Globe detailed Representative Barney Frank’s continued quest to legalize and tax Internet gambling.

“Why the CBO estimates Shouldn’t Count for Much,” The Gaggle, Newsweek, Oct. 8, 2009.
The Obama administration has handed the Congressional Budget Office more power than ever with its health bill scores. Why those cost estimates should be taken with a grain of salt.

“The 16th Minute: Picking on kids his own size,” Newsweek, Oct. 5, 2009.
Danny Almonte continues to harbor Major League ambitions eight years after he was known around the world as a cheat.

“Six Ways Obama Can Take Charge on Health Care,” The Gaggle, Newsweek, Sept. 8, 2009.
With public support for the public option fading, a look at how Obama can regain control of the debate as his major health speech approaches.

“The Fight Over Rescissions,” The Gaggle, Newsweek, Sept. 1, 2009.
Insurers revoking insurance from their customers to keep from paying costly bills gives reform advocates — and one House committee — a window to attack.

“The Next Money Pits,” Newsweek, Aug. 10, 2009, page 15.
While California faces a harrowing budget deficit, several other states are in danger of falling into the same fiscal hole.

“Healthy Options,” Newsweek, July 20, 2009, page 21.
No matter what plan emerges from the health-care debate, it will draw on approaches that the states are already taking.

“Seven Charged, Two Arraigned on Complaints by Rev. George’s Wife,” The Local, The New York Times, May 5, 2009.
The latest story in the months-long “saga” from a January incident at the local high school involving a reverend and baseball bat, where a student wound up in the hospital — and charged with simple assault.

“Fordham students reflect on their religious beliefs,” The Bronx Beat, May 1, 2009.
A Pew study revealed more Americans were changing faiths, especially at a young age. I examined how this trend was playing out at Fordham University, a Jesuit school in the Bronx.
Interactive graphic: Switching faiths

“A Parking Lot Is, Unexpectedly, Added to Millburn’s Downtown,” The Local, The New York Times, April 30, 2009.
I used the state property tax database to generate this story about a land purchase now sitting idle, and created the accompanying map displaying all the property the township owned.

“Friendship among two priests helps heal violent wound,” Beyond the Brogue, April 26, 2009.
In the days after two British soldiers were killed in Northern Ireland, a long-term friendship between two priests helped to make a decisive stand for peace.

“Bronx mosque in foreclosure battle,” The Bronx Beat, April 24, 2009.
This story tells of West African immigrants entangled in a court battle to to keep ownership of their mosque.

“Building on a storied legacy,” The Bronx Beat, April 13, 2009, page 3.
The lead story in a special 10-page section about the opening of the new Yankee Stadium.

“An Outcry Over Parking,” The New York Times, March 29, 2009, page NJ2.
This article about local business complaints with downtown parking appeared in the weekly New Jersey section of The New York Times.

“Trader Joe’s and PetSmart in talks over Whole Foods building,” The Local, The New York Times, March 5, 2009.
I broke the story revealing Millburn residents may finally get their wish: a Trader Joe’s coming to town.

“Fickle No More, Irwin Feinberg Moves On,” The Local, The New York Times, March 2, 2009.
Irwin Feinberg worked on Millburn Avenue for 35 years as co-owner of the Fickle Follicle hair salon, but now he’s closing his shop and moving to another salon.

“Obama makes history,” Decision NYC: A special edition of Columbia Journalist, Nov. 4, 2008.
This was one of seven print stories from Columbia on Election Night, along with three broadcasts, for the most extensive election coverage the school has ever produced. Amy Wang and I reported and wrote the presidential story, and I filed updates throughout the night from the New York Republican event.

“Trash War on Dean Street,” The Brooklyn Paper, Oct. 22, 2008.
Neighbors of an elementary school in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, are fed up with trash sitting outside the elementary school on their street, complaining the garbage is leaking and attracting rodents.

“Senate Manor takes on HUD,” The Indianapolis Star, Aug. 8, 2008, page B1.
The government is trying to revoke Senate Manor’s subsidized housing funds, but the landlord and tenants have filed suit to stop it.

“Political donation amplifies radio issue,” The Indianapolis Star, Aug. 2, 2008, page B1.
The chairman of the agency overseeing Motorola’s new radio system, who has supported them in recent disputes, received a campaign contribution from Motorola in his 2007 mayoral run.

“More fire mergers are on the docket,” The Indianapolis Star, July 30, 2008, page B1.
Two more townships in Marion County are looking to consolidate fire service, though several others remain staunchly opposed.

“In the mood for security,” The Indianapolis Star, July 21, 2008, page A1.
The new Indianapolis airport is adopting a calmer approach to airport security, designed to ease anxiety through an often chaotic checkpoint.

“Radios cause static between agency chair, board,” The Indianapolis Star, July 21, 2008, page B3.
Public Safety Director and MECA Board member Scott Newman calls for the ouster of the MECA Board Chair over a refusal to hold meetings and criticism of city dispatchers.

“Lottery to pull scratch-offs if big prizes gone,” The Indianapolis Star, July 12, 2008, page A1.
A week after my story revealing scratch-offs continued to be sold when the top prize was awarded, the state lottery changed course and pulled the tickets. The story was picked up by the AP and ran throughout Indiana.

“Lottery may face more litigants,” The Indianapolis Star, July 11, 2008, page B1.
I broke this story about a lawsuit against the state lottery receiving class-action status, which was also picked up by the AP.

“This fourth, more bucks for your bang,” The Indianapolis Star, July 2, 2008, page A1.
Problems in China, the world’s major fireworks distributor, have caused higher prices for fireworks this July 4. Next year could be even worse.

“Safety under review after 3 die in collapse,” The Indianapolis Star, June 27, 2008, page A1.
A sudden thunderstorm caused a wall under construction in a truck yard to collapse, killing three workers.

“New digital radios could put firefighters at risk, chiefs say,” The Indianapolis Star, June 26, 2008, page A1.
My first of seven stories about Marion County’s new radio system: Fire chiefs warn that new digital radios could prove disastrous in an emergency, and a federal study backs up their concerns.

“Report: More kids in state slip into poverty,” The Indianapolis Star, June 12, 2008, page A1.
My first Indy Star story: A federally study shows more of Indiana’s youth are living in poverty, while funding to some social programs that could help them is being cut.

“Crossing the fence,” One World Magazine, May 2008, pages 21-23.
Wissam Darhaj has to cross the Israel-West Bank separation barrier every time he travels from his home to work, a trek that a growing number of West Bank Palestinians take to work illegally in Israel. This is a secondary story I found while in Israel reporting on the Oasis of Peace, where Wissam works.

“Police ID body found in car trunk,” The Argus, Oct. 7, 2007, page B1.
Police identified the man who was found dead in a car trunk, also revealing that the man owned the car.

“Youth’s bone marrow tour draws crowd in Fremont,” The Argus, July 7, 2007, page B1.
A 12-year-old leads a nationwide bone marrow drive to register 5,000 donors — while he is still recovering from Leukemia.

“Teen arrested in Union City fatal shooting,” The Argus, June 25, 2007, page A1.
A teen was arrested on suspicion of murder the day after 17-year-old recent high school grad Biniam Yifru was slain in the house of his school principal.

“Teen killed in Union City shooting,” The Argus, June 24, 2007, page A1.
A 17-year-old teenager was shot and killed when a fight broke out during a party at the house of a high school principal, who didn’t know the party was occurring.

“Fremont police seek murder charge: The suspect,” The Argus, Aug. 31, 2006, page A1.
My story was one of three on the hit-and-run rampage, profiling the suspect who police said ran over and killed one pedestrian in Fremont before driving to San Francisco and injuring 18 more.

“Man’s body found in park,” The Argus, Aug. 26, 2006, page A1.
Police had little details after a man was found dead in a park on a Friday evening.

“Lyme Disease often misdiagnosed,” The Daily Journal, Aug. 22, 2006, page 1.
An in-depth look at how San Mateo residents who have Lyme Disease deal with its ailments and the difficultly in diagnosing it.

“Dentist changes name of business under threat of suit,” The Argus, Aug. 13, 2006, page B1.
A local dentist had to change the name of her business, Gentle Plus Dental, after the Gentle Dental chain decided to rename all its Fremont dentist offices as the chain name.

“Fremont residents join in local cease fire vigil,” The Argus, Aug. 8, 2006, page A1.
Local Fremont activists rallied for peace at a busy street corner to join in a global call for a cease fire between Israel and Lebanon.

“San Jose Grand Prix runs more smoothly for everyone this year,” Oakland Tribune, July 30, 2006, page A1.
This story ran throughout the then-Alameda News Group, describing what was a smoother ride for both drivers and fans at the second San Jose Grand Prix.

“Fremont man makes lifelong habit of donating blood,” The Argus, July 28, 2006, page A1.
Rod Smith has donated the blood of 10 men, giving 15 gallons — a human has 10 to 12 pints — over the course of 35 years.

“Lack of funds may wipe out Fremont boarding park,” The Argus, July 19, 2006, page B1.
The city put in a temporary skate park, with plans to build a permanent one, but those plans were abandoned and the city has sat on $84,000 for the project.

“Quake group to fill exhibit’s financial cracks,” The Argus, June 30, 2006, page A1.
My first Argus story: Officials have kept alive an earthquake exhibit that sits inside the Hayward Fault, and now they are trying to raise funds for a permanent exhibit.

“Cheer coach probed after money goes missing,” The Santa Clara, April 20, 2006, page 1.
The Athletic Department opened an internal investigation into allegations that the cheerleading coach stole money from cheerleaders and a team raffle.

“30-year-old train project may be history,” The Santa Clara, April 6, 2006, page 1.
One retiring Jesuit’s 30-year handmade train collection is a casualty of Santa Clara priests’ move into a new residence.

“Zags continue to dominate,” The Santa Clara, March 3, 2006, page 16.
After the Steve Nash-era ended at Santa Clara, the Broncos faded from national prominence as a new conference dynasty arose: Gonzaga.

“Poll: Few aware of disaster plans,” The Santa Clara, Jan. 26, 2006, page 1.
A poll I conducted found most students were unprepared for a disaster, which led to a university public relations campaign to improve disaster preparedness.

“Morrison leads Zags past Broncos,” The Santa Clara, Jan. 12, 2006, page 16.
Santa Clara fans heckled Adam Morrison all night, but their team couldn’t stop the Gonzaga standout as he led the Bulldogs to a 81-68 win.