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The Righteous Wrath of a Hometown Journalist

November 5th, 2019 · No Comments · Journalism, Long Beach

I grew up in Long Beach, California. My mother and siblings still live there. Several nieces, too. I haven’t lived in the city since 2009, and have not spent a lot of time in it since 1976, but it remains my hometown, and I have the Long Beach State baseball cap to prove it.

Which is why I make a point to read a little online newspaper, the Long Beach Post, which is the most significant surviving media presence in a city of 495,000.

The Post is a handful of kids and veterans trying to do journalism at its most basic level.

That handful of people includes one very-well-known — in Long Beach — individual, name of Tim Grobaty, columnist for the Post, as he was for the Long Beach Press Telegram before it.

I might still have been at school at Long Beach State when Grobaty started writing for what is now a shriveled remnant of a newspaper.

Grobaty is a Long Beach lifer, to my knowledge, and he is the kind of writer with a mandate to, well, tell it like it is, on the news side.

Grobaty seems to prefer the light and happy and curious, around Long Beach. But, in line with the best general columnists, he can rain down fire and brimstone on powerful people whose actions anger or disturb him.

In this case, Grobaty went Defcon 1 on the mayor of the city, shaming him for his inattention to local events as Long Beach endured a siege of violence that led to six dead and nine wounded in a span of three days last week.

Grobaty believes a mayor should be the reassuring face of a city when his constituents are hurting or frightened, and he finds Robert Garcia, the Long Beach mayor, derelict in his duty for the greater part of a week.

And Grobaty is ticked off.

Read about it here.

The trouble started on Tuesday night, when a pre-Halloween party in the backyard of a modest home near a major street was shot up by a person (or persons) unknown, leaving three young men dead and nine men and women wounded.

The police have no suspects.

Two nights later, a young family of three — father, mother, son age 3, out for his first Halloween — were fatally injured when struck by a car driven, police say, by a 20-year-old man under the influence.

What followed was a vigil at the house that was shot up, and then a “March for Peace” on Sunday, near the Halloween house, an event the local city councilwoman was able to attend.

Where was the mayor, and how did he react?

Early in the week he was helping the Kamala Harris campaign and spending some time on matters fire-related. He sent out “love and prayers” to relatives from the family that had been wiped out by the speeding car.

He also went to a musical-theater performance on Friday. On Saturday he took his mother out for lunch for her birthday. He made reference to a “much-needed date night”, apparently referring back to the musical-theater performance (according to a tweet he posted on Saturday).

Grobaty thought Mayor Garcia should have done better. And said so. Where was he for the vigil? For the March for Peace? When did he visit the survivors? Or even call them?

This was meant to be a journalism site, but it has strayed from that as the newspaper industry has collapsed. But back when I was working for a newspaper … general columnists, like Grobaty, had free rein to call politicians to account.

And he did so, in the finest traditions of the field.

I appreciate his concern, his empathy and his completely warranted questions about “where is the mayor in all this?”

The comment piece suggested Grobaty understands his constituents more than does the mayor, and that often is the case, especially when the journalist’s ties to the city run far deeper than those of the most recent politico to assume the reins of power.

Kudos to Tim Grobaty.


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