KIDS FOR CASH TURNS 5
The fifth anniversary of the indictments of the Kids for Cash scandal took place this week, and I was honored to be part of WNEP’s coverage with Jon Meyer, Scott Shaffer, Sarah Buynovsky (who in the last five years did by far the best stories of any TV reporter in the area), Peggy Lee, and Lara Greenberg.  I had a story on the reforms made in the wake of the scandal, and how juvenile courts in Pennsylvania are very different places.  At heart, I’m a numbers guy, and used numbers to show the incredible difference in how many kids were sent to prison when Mark Ciavarella ran juvenile court, versus now.  You can find the story .Kids for Cash: Are Reforms Working? here.  I especially like the comment from US Attorney Peter Smith who supervised the prosecution of Ciavarella and former President Judge Michael Conahan, both ex-judges are now in federal prison where they belong.  I’m even prouder of the special website for the coverage we did at Newswatch 16.  Click here for the multimedia presentation we did on five years after Kids for Cash.  It is the kind of in-depth work that very few TV stations in the Northeast are capable of.  Kudos to WNEP’s Shawn Dunn for putting this together.

This will be a busy week for Action 16 Investigates.  I have an investigation to air Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday on a part of the Transportation bill that some might find controversial.  The bill essentially raised money to repair crumbling bridges, buckling roads, fixing up airports and bus terminals, and expanding mass transit.  But there’s more, and it’s worth a look, will post next week.  I also have three shoots coming up.

Now for some good memories, let’s talk about the Winter Olympics.  Best Olympics ever: Lake Placid 1980, where I was just starting my career at nearby WPTZ-TV in Plattsburgh.  It was the Olympics of USA Hockey’s ”Miracle on Ice,” and Eric Heiden’s five gold medals in speed skating.  But to me the greatest Winter Olympic moment was Franz Klammer’s gold in the men’s downhill in Austria in 1976.  To this day, I have never had a sporting event, seeing a hometown kid under so much pressure to win, and win he did. 

 One other special memory when I worked at WPTZ was interviewing gold medalist Barbara Cochran, who won the women’s slalom in 1972 in Sapporo, Japan.  I will never forget watching the event live black and white TV in my Cape Cod living room at about midnight, when she seemed to ski through a blizzard and just crushed her second run for the win.  A week later, her picture was in “Life” Magazine shaking President Nixon’s hand.  At the time, she lived with her parents who ran a Mom and Pop ski lift from their back yard.  I asked to see her Olympic gold medal, thinking it would be prominently displayed in her living room, or at the ski slope’s lodge, or maybe encased and displayed at her high school or the University of Vermont.  Nope.  Barbara went to her bedroom, pulled out a shoebox with an old report card, and a few other knick-knacks, and there was America’s only gold medal in skiing from the 1972 Olympics.  I consider an Olympic gold medal far more valuable and noteworthy than a Super Bowl ring, or a Green Jacket from the Masters Golf Tournament.  And I found it refreshing that Barbara’s gold was at the bottom of a shoebox.  I wonder where it is now.  

                                                              BARBARA COCHRAN

So as I watch these Olympics, I am thinking of Franz Klammer and Barbara Cochran and wishing them well, wherever they are.


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