Memorable

Heartbreaking, uplifting, riveting, hilarious, outrageous, memorable. In no particular order, here are the stories that have stayed with me…

Cairo has a special place in my heart. In a 2014 visit, I wanted to explore what has caused so many to turn their backs on revolution…
Feb. 11, 2014, GlobalPost
Denizens of Cairo’s graveyard slums ‘in no mood for revolution’
The only thing the 2011 uprising has delivered, as far as Fatma Ahmed is concerned, is chaos and violence. If she could go back, she says, she would never support the tech-savvy youth who ignited an uprising that toppled a regime and captured the world’s attention.

A tip about a dispute with building inspectors led to a story involving a Chinese restaurant shakedown and a bizarre legal battle over a crumbling Victorian mansion…
Sept. 22, 2010, East Bay Express
Cover story – Inspections from Hell: Building inspectors accused of harassing homeowners, soliciting bribes
Doherty, who sued the City of Alameda in 2008, is not the first to tangle with local building inspectors. Alameda, a small city with a wealth of historic architecture and little new construction activity to regulate, is known for strict enforcement of building codes. Several lawsuits filed in recent years accuse the agency of going too far, arbitrarily enforcing complex ordinances in an effort to raise money for a bloated department with little to do.

During a 2012 stay in Guatemala, a 7.2 quake sent us scrambling for cover. A few days later I joined the local Red Cross to visit damaged indigenous villages…
Nov. 27, 2012, GlobalPost
A humanitarian crisis after Guatemala’s earthquake
“Our house cracked during the earthquake,” said the 24-year-old with a baby on her back and a toddler holding her hand. “We still live there but we are scared to sleep there. … Every time there is an aftershock, we think the house is going to fall.”

When my new roommate was suddenly killed by a speeding car, I decided to break my self-imposed rule about never writing in first person…
April 28, 2014, Medium
Paul Moved Into My Apartment Seeking a Fresh Start. Then He Died.
I found out that my new roommate was dead from Facebook. I was sitting at my kitchen table around lunchtime, scrolling through clever status updates and cute baby photos, when I saw it. Someone had tagged a recent photo of him grinning in a plaid shirt and written: “Taken far too soon. RIP Paul.”

When I started asking why some elected officials were skipping work, I learned they were collecting their stipends anyway — even if one was actually in Brazil…
Feb. 27, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle
Absent City College of SF trustees skip meetings, get stipends
City College of San Francisco trustees regularly collect their monthly stipend whether they show up to board meetings or not – a practice legal experts say violates state law.

In 2008, I got a plane to Cairo for the first time. Living in Egypt, I became curious about the world of child maids — countryside girls rented out as city servants…
Sept. 7, 2008, San Francisco Chronicle
Egypt’s poor girls slave as maids for rich
Each morning, 12-year-old Sabrine Tubah wakes up in a spacious apartment, where she can take a hot shower, wear new clothes and have plenty to eat. But Sabrine, a petite girl with coarse dark hair and serious eyes, would give anything to go home. The luxury apartment where she lives is owned by a couple who pay Sabrine’s mother, a sickly widow, $35 a month for her daughter’s services as a live-in maid and nanny.

I began covering a financial scandal at City College as a student reporter. But the story followed me for nearly five years, finally ending in guilty pleas…
Sept. 29, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle
Ex-SF City College officials plead guilty
The former chancellor of City College of San Francisco has pleaded guilty to felony charges of misusing public funds. As part of a plea deal, Philip Day admitted last week to diverting nearly $100,000 in college funds to campaign for community college bond ballot measures.

I spent many cold, confusing, crazy nights covering the Occupy Wall Street movement from Oakland and San Francisco…
Nov. 2, 2011, GlobalPost
Occupy Wall Street: The next move
At a recent Occupy march here against police brutality, demonstrators stopped several times along their route to decide which way to go. At one intersection, it took about 10 minutes of deliberations before the group decided to head through a residential neighborhood. The Occupy movement in some ways looks a lot like that meandering Oakland march.

Scouring court filings one day, I came across the strange case of a tenured teacher losing her job after her school district stopped signing her visa papers…
June 18, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle
Teacher’s fight to renew visa a first for Oakland
Evelyn Francisco, the only AP statistics teacher at Oakland Technical High School, is asking an Alameda County Superior Court judge to order school officials to sign the paperwork. She argues that the district is illegally firing her by refusing sponsorship of the visa that allows her to stay in the country.

Covering the Barry Bonds steroids perjury trial for three weeks for AFP was exhausting and fascinating. This was the most dramatic day…
March 28, 2011, Agence France-Presse
Bonds blamed injury on steroids: ex-mistress
When Barry Bonds’ ex-girlfriend walked into a San Francisco courtroom Monday to testify against the famed baseball player, it was the first time the two had seen each other in eight years.

Guatemala is a beautiful, heartbreaking country full of kindness and tragedy. To me, this story was about the divide between rich and poor, even in death…
Nov. 28, 2012, Christian Science Monitor
‘Death evictions’? Guatemala’s violence takes an unusual toll
The epitaph on a simple bronze-colored tombstone in Guatemala City’s main national cemetery reads: “Pray for your eternal peace.” But peace is hard to come by in Central America’s largest city – even in death. (View a slideshow of my cemetery photos.)

These anti-Islam ads, released during the so-called “ground zero mosque” furor, were meant to cause controversy. And they did…
July 28, 2010, Christian Science Monitor
‘Anti-Islamic’ bus ads appear in major cities
The growing debate over Islam’s place in America, which is escalating in light of plans to build a mosque near ground zero, is increasingly playing out on city streets across the country. On the sides of buses, to be precise. … Ads by a group calling itself Stop Islamization of America read: “Fatwa on your head? Is your family or community threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers!”

These city workers were accused of using city funds for sex parties with prostitutes on Treasure Island. Need I say more?…
July 2, 2010, California Watch/San Francisco Chronicle
Unsupervised city workers accused of brazen theft, cheating taxpayers
by Lance Williams & Stephanie Rice
Bored and unsupervised, five highly paid electricians working for the city of San Francisco spent years allegedly stealing from taxpayers during a remarkable binge that involved sex parties with prostitutes, moonlighting on city time and fraudulent billing to pay for their suburban lifestyles.

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