Pulitzer prize-winning journalist George Ramos joins CalCoastNews

August 1, 2009

George Ramos, three time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former bureau chief with the Los Angeles Times, has joined CalCoastNews.

Ramos, former chair of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Journalism Department, continues to teach reporting and editing classes as a tenured professor at the campus.

In his role with CalCoastNews, Ramos will help edit stories and provide assistance as needed for other investigative projects.

“We are thrilled to have George Ramos,” said Karen Velie, co-founder and investigative reporter with CalCoastNews. “His 31 years of newspaper experience brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to CalCoastNews.”

Ramos was the first Chicano journalist to win the coveted Pulitzer for a continuing series chronicling the lives of Southern California Latinos. He went on to win additional awards in 1993 and 1994 for his reporting on the Northridge earthquake and the riots surrounding the verdict in the Rodney King beating case.

“CalCoastNews is the kind of investigative journalism that we need,” Ramos said. “Along with my teaching duties at Poly, I’m looking forward to being part of this new wave of journalism on the web.”

CalCoastNews is San Luis Obispo County’s only on-line independent news source producing in-depth investigative news in the public interest. CalCoastNews was co-founded by Daniel Blackburn, a veteran journalist, best-selling author and former capitol bureau chief for the Orange County Register; and Karen Velie, a professional journalist who has interviewed national figures such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

In addition to his editing and advising duties, Ramos may also take on reporting and writing assignments.



One Comment

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: paperboy on 8/4/09
    I have a better idea. McClatchy should hire Ramos to run the Tribune’s newsroom.

    By: Cindy on 8/4/09
    You’ve got some “good stuff” here Ron and I’m not entirely in disagreement with you. I can respond to some of your critiques off the top of my head but others require time constraining research to deliver the facts behind the real matter at hand. I’ll do it because I do know where to go back and put it in perspective via documented facts. Can’t do it today but can do it tomorrow. Regardless I can’t discount that Karen’s trusted “source” did error (semantics) . We are all in this together just trying to get to the truth that collectively serves us all.

    By: Ron on 8/4/09
    Cindy wrote:

    “Ron… Doesn’t getting terminated after claims of SH and the filing of a law suit EQUALLY imply guilt?”

    In this case, not even close.

    “Stepping down?” I mean, c’mon. We all know what that implies: “I got caught, now I’m just going to go away quietly so I can limit the damage.”

    But that’s not what happened at all in this case… however, that’s EXACTLY what the anonymous source WANTED people to think.

    To be frank — that anonymous source probably knew that Karen, because Karen uses… errrr…. used anonymous sources (those days are gone, apparently, according to Ramos on Dave’s show yesterday), would run with that source’s spin — a spin which turned out to be totally inaccurate — so, that source, to be blunt, USED Karen.

    “The evidence is clear,” there was no sexual harassment by Edge towards Wilcox.

    It also seems clear what happened: Wilcox knew she f-d up, and was looking for a way to “buy some time,” so she (and some friends) set Edge up. There’s no other way to put it — David Edge was set up to LOOK like he sexual harassed Wilcox, so Wilcox could “buy some time” to cash in some way, and that is SO messed up.

    And that anonymous source was almost certainly part of the scam — and it worked! By deliberately feeding Karen inaccurate information, that Edge “stepped down” due to “sexual harassment,” people now think Edge is a sexual harasser. But, I don’t, and neither does the Robertson report.

    That’s exactly why a reporter shouldn’t use anonymous sources. They suck. You have no idea what their agenda is.

    Now Congalton, Blackburn and Velie, are stuck in this weird, little place. Because of the (deliberately) inaccurate information supplied by that anonymous source in Karen’s original story, they have to continue to label Edge a “sleazy, creepy” sexual harasser-type, when “the evidence is clear” he’s not.

    And because they’re stuck in that weird, little place, Congalton’s now coming off like a prude, when he calls Edge “creepy” on the air.

    I’ve got some news for Dave. Under HIS definition of “creepy,” there are creeps at every, single workplace in the world, including El Dorado Broadcasting.

    If you ask me, Edge sounds like a pretty cool boss, with a good sense of humor, (“Munchkin” smack? That made me laugh), and when it came to returning e-mails, with EXCELLENT responses? Edge was, hands down, the best in County government. And now he’s gone, simply because he was set-up, and that set-up gave the Supes an excuse to get rid of him, for some weird reason — a reason we don’t know.

    As for the lawsuit, which one are you talking about? Because I DO smell a lawsuit, but it’s not Wilcox’s DOA “SH” lawsuit. Nope. The lawsuit I smell coming down the pipe, is a “wrongful termination” lawsuit from Edge.

    Which is the EXACT point of my previous post — why was David Edge fired?

    What’s the answer to that question?

    To quote the Robertson report, “The evidence is clear” that there was no sexual harassment by Edge towards Wilcox. And, when I read that report, that’s exactly what I see.

    So, why was he fired?

    THAT’s the story CCN should be investigating. Of course, if they do, it’ll show that their initial reporting on this story, supported by a single anonymous source, was wrong, so they can’t report the story that NEEDS to be investigated.

    IGG wrote:

    “What kind of supervisor discovers a clear breach of duty on the part of a subordinate and quickly acts to try and cover it up?”

    According to the Robertson report, D. Duke also knew about Wilcox’s “breach of duty,” and she’s still there.

    So, why was Edge fired?

    Like I wrote, we’ll be seeing a lawsuit from all of this, alright: Edge’s wrongful termination lawsuit, and, right now, it sure sounds like he’s going to win that.

    Karen, did a great job first exposing that Edge and Wilcox were on paid leave. But, she should have just stopped there, and waited for something like the Robertson report before dealing out the “stepped down” because of “allegations of sexual harassment” card.

    And, IF she had waited, and the Trib had dealt the sexual harassment card based solely on Wilcox’s set-up, then Karen could be writing the exact same excellent takes about the Trib, that I’m writing about CCN today.

    In reporting — always better safe, than sorry, even at the risk of a potential “scoop.”

    By: Use_it_or_Lose_it on 8/4/09
    Well- Roger, I think there are many reasons why people do not say who they are, here. Some self-preserving, some dark. Some just cuz.

    Illumination of our governments darkened hallways and offices is a slow process, but it is happening. Light by light, office by office.

    We as a people must yell and clamor that we want honest, transparent government. Please note we ARE getting exactly what we ask for, vote for, and care about. When we care about transparent government, we’ll have a transparent government.

    So, hat’s off to Karen and CCN for the very important role they are playing in this process. If people get courage, first, by speaking up here, “anonymously”, then let them. Encourage their efforts to explore their voice here.

    It is unfortunate that with anonymity, some of us can choose to be disruptive, distracting, and so forth. People do that in public, too, though…

    Signed, the Tin Man

    By: isntgreedgood on 8/3/09
    Ron – Your thoughts on the single anonymous source aside — I think it’s fairly obvious why Edge was fired. What kind of supervisor discovers a clear breach of duty on the part of a subordinate and quickly acts to try and cover it up? He is paid by the taxpayers to look out for the public interest and yet instead of disciplining his charge he advises Wilcox on how to avoid being held accountable for her acts. I don’t disagree that he doesn’t appear to have sexually harassed Wilcox. She absolutely threw this guy under the bus to protect herself at the same time he was putting himself in a position to lose his job all in his desire to protect her. Very sad, really. He obviously had a thing for her all along and she led him on for years as she climbed that ladder. She seems to be a person who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Edge and her ex-husband were props and toys. Karmic that she will live out the next few years with minimal income, lonely, and with a big ass.

    By: rogerfreberg on 8/3/09
    Obviously, our county has less transparency than most people would expect. Unfortunately, we are an ‘island’ here and folks often feel they are a law unto themselves and act accordingly. I look forward to many more interesting stories.

    Roger Freberg

    BTW: Anonymous sources are one thing… anonymous posters are another. People who hide behind anonymity often behave badly … which is my point.

    Interestingly enough, McDave sounds a lot like the guy who wrote in support of Edge and Wilcox in today’s tribune, Jay McSalter.

    By: Cindy on 8/3/09
    Ron, Your post is interesting and you represent your thoughts/points well. I do have a question though. You state : “As we all know now, from REAL sources, Edge never “stepped down,” and that changes the ENTIRE meaning of that wildly inaccurate, anonymous statement, because if he HAD stepped down, that implies guilt.”
    Doesn’t getting terminated after claims of SH and the filing of a law suit EQUALLY imply guilt? How would the head line (fired vs stepped down) have changed the initial public perception?

    By: soca on 8/3/09
    I must say mcdave, the quirky, amateurish look of this site is what makes it endearing, and I think it would be mistake to change it. Drudge seems to be doing pretty well, and the site has looked the same going on a decade. However, Drudge has, for the most part, cleaned up their frequent broken links, and it remains a portal, not a source of original work.

    Please don’t dismiss mcdave, because I too find the lack of links in the blogs to be annoying. I also think that you should get a volunteer moderator until such time that you can pay one. It will help with the current “wild west” feel of it.

    Although I think it great that Karen now has an editor, I am concerned that Mr. Ramos’ only claim to fame is on race issues. I hope we don’t see a new slant on this site.

    By: Ron on 8/3/09
    Welcome aboard, George!

    And, can I recommend a first assignment?

    Let’s find out why David Edge was REALLY fired.

    According to Karen’s May 12, story, at this link… errrr… URL (I forgot… can’t make a link in the comments section here — mccdave makes very good points. I have no idea why CCN just doesn’t go to blogger? It’s SO much better, and it’s FREE)… at this URL:


    Karen wrote, “Monday, a source told CalCoastNews that County Administrator David Edge had stepped down following allegations of sexual harassment leveled by Assistant County Administrator Gail Wilcox.”

    Whoa, was that single, anonymous source wrong. Woooooo… so wrong. Wow. Wildly inaccurate… was that anonymous source.

    As we all know now, from REAL sources, Edge never “stepped down,” and that changes the ENTIRE meaning of that wildly inaccurate, anonymous statement, because if he HAD stepped down, that implies guilt.

    And the reason he never “stepped down,” was because, according to the Robertson report, those “allegations” ended up being just that — “allegations” — and David Edge didn’t “sexually harass” Wilcox.

    According to the Robertson report, “Duke and [Redacted]… thought Wilcox could say to Edge, ‘I’m tired of this harassment. You’ve been bugging me for years.’ If she pursued this option, they thought it might “buy some time” for Wilcox to explore job opportunities…”


    “Duke is emphatic that she does not believe any discussions between Edge and Wilcox actually were harassing, because Duke believed the conversations were welcomed by Wilcox.”


    “… the evidence is clear that Wilcox never told Edge that his communications made her uncomfortable.”

    So, why was David Edge fired? I don’t understand.

    ’cause, I gotta admit, now that the dust has settled a bit, I’m not seeing sexual harassment, and neither does the Robertson report. However, I AM seeing exactly what Edge said at his “public execution:” “stifling political correctness”

    THAT’s what I see.

    Which means, right now, there’s no official answer to why Edge was fired.

    (Wow. I just can’t get over how wrong that single, anonymous source was. Oh well, it’s not like that anonymous source made it seem like someone was a sexual harasser, when that someone was just being set-up as a sexual harasser, so someone else, perhaps a friend of the anonymous source, could cash in… wait a sec… that’s EXACTLY what that single, anonymous source did.)

    According to the report, “From all accounts, each witness only saw or heard (from David Edge) a few of these kinds of remarks (singing “My Sharona” to a workmate, or commenting on whether someone’s hair was straight or curly) over many years, and the incidents were too isolated and mild to lead anyone to think they needed to make a harassment complaint.”

    “[Redacted] was “the only witness…”

    (I wonder if that “only witness” was CCN’s “anonymous source,” because, here’s what the report says about that “only witness,” “[Redacted] did not know the extent of sexual or personal information Wilcox was sharing with him.”)

    Was Edge fired because he commented on a fellow employee’s hairstyle?

    Because he bought a book for a so-called “friend,” that, according to the Robertson report, she, apparently, not only read, but used its advice!? (yep, page 48… boo-yeah)

    Because he sang “My Sharona” at work? (Good god, what would’ve happened if he had sang, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” He would’ve been deported!)

    Because he engaged in what SOME deem inappropriate conversation with a fellow employee — conversation that “never” made her feel “uncomfortable?”

    Did Edge make some mistakes? According to the Robertson report, it sure sounds like it — and it sounds like his biggest mistake was not immediately firing his so-called “friend” while they were at Guiseppe’s — but who hasn’t made mistakes in a job that they’ve been at for a decade?

    So, why was he fired? I’m not clear on that.

    I have a question:

    Is the county’s job description for a new CAO going to read: “You can’t sing, joke, have casual, ‘welcomed’ conversation, or comment on hairstyles, with fellow employees, while at work, OR on your own personal time.” And, if you do, we’re going to ‘publicly execute’ you, and then hire a lawyer to dig up all kinds of dirt on you, and then we’re going to make that lawyer’s report public.”

    How many QUALITY applicants do you think they’re going to get with that job description?

    So, what was the REAL reason why Edge was fired?

    Just a hunch, but I don’t think it was because he sang, “My Sharona.” I also don’t think that we’re at the bottom of this story, yet.

    George, maybe you can help CCN get to the REAL bottom of this story, using, you know, REAL sources, just like, hopefully, you teach at Cal Poly’s Journalism School.

    That’d be sweet.

    [By the way, I wonder how Professor Ramos feels about reporters using single, anonymous sources to deal out the “sexual harassment” card? I’d be very interested in hearing the answer to that question.]

    But, all that aside, good job, Karen! (…for the most part. Although mccd’s right — Blogger has better technology, and it’s free. Just sayin’)

    By: Black_Copter_Pilot on 8/3/09
    Just as I am certain that Ted Kennedy was NOT at the wheel some 40 yrs ago, I am also certain that the new George IS here to fulfill some journalistic prophecy.

    Is there an agenda for this news(gossip) site? I mean, he comes from the LA Times for christsake.

    Be watchful SLO, the left is advancing.

    By: hotdog on 8/2/09
    Well, we are getting way off topic. MccDave makes good points (if they are accurate) and George counters with good points (if accurate). Why don’t you folks continue the chat in email and work it out? If we all want this site to be the best it can be (given the resources at hand) then only a fool would refuse good advice and help to that end. Of course there are innumerable fools out there but I think all of these adversaries are not, though emotions and attitudes vary.
    I don’t understand all the internet issues all of you bring up but if there is worth there they should be pursued, if possible. I know time, knowledge and money are always in short supply at times-and that might account for certain upgrades taking time to work out. But this IS the CCN site, and I guess we have to take it for what it is at any one time.
    Maybe MccDave is a troll, or maybe a really smart person trying to help. I guess that is for the managers of the site to figure out, and I hope they are making their best decisions in responding to his incessant comments. I think his/her comments about the site should go to ‘Tip your Team’ for review and not so much here. And as far as finding older articles there is a simple search box at the top for that.

    By: mccdave on 8/2/09
    “Well, the earliest chat rooms and blogs allowed anonymous postings… and that is why they are dying compared to sites in which folks are identified… like Facebook.”

    On a site that relies (for good reason) on anonymous sources, Rog’s comment is especially funny. (And if Freberg thinks the Facebook Michael Jackson is the real Jacko, I’ve got a domain name I’d like to sell him.) Why do you think I don’t use my name? Because commenting here isn’t exactly a badge of honor, given the ambiance and the company, which is sort of a cross between a Lyons Club rec room and a meeting of the Montana militia.

    By the way, what happened to Booty_Juice, who used to comment here regularly and whose deadly accurate collective slanders were the only reason to read the comments? If he was banished, you can count that as another screw-up by CCN, who should have made him a columnist, ala Brinkley or Sevareid.

    By: rogerfreberg on 8/2/09

    “Mccdave is a pseudonym. You don’t think I’d be dumb enough to use my name here, do you? :) ”

    Well, the earliest chat rooms and blogs allowed anonymous postings… and that is why they are dying compared to sites in which folks are identified… like Facebook.

    There really should be no reason not to sign your real name be it Warren Baker, Mr. Edge, or even Gail Wilcox.


    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 8/2/09
    To last post. You are RIGHT. If you follow and don’t disagree and walk lock step your fine. If you disagree you are a complainer. Hope you get this before it is deleted for disscent.

    Oh and congrats CCN on the staff addition.

    By: mccdave on 8/2/09
    “IE users have our condolences.”

    IE is by far the most common browser out there, like it or not. Professional sites don’t just write it off.

    “We are still waiting to see his shiny cascading style sheet laden ‘model’ website, for comparison.”

    Check out, um, every other website out there for a better example. Even the default template on Blogger is better than this, fer chrissake. Have you guys ever seen the internet?

    “we want you to use your scroll wheel
    MCCD if you really want to help we need someone to fix over two hundred links that were broken during the eviction last fall.
    it’ll only take a few hours of your time, once you get used to the bondwere(designed on a mac)uh quirks:-D”

    1) Links only break if you’re doing them wrong (i.e. using some other non-portable subdomain instead of a portable domain name, or changing things without doing redirects, etc.)
    2) There are only about ten million nerds out there who could, in ten minutes, write a PHP script to redirect any uncoveredslo links to calcoastnews. (Some of us try not to soil ourselves with PHP, but that’s another rant.)
    3) I sent you guys a Google document for web developers on the problems with mirroring content across multiple domains. Find a nerd to read it and explain it to you.
    4) There are only about five thousand blog/content management systems out there. You guys had to pick Bondware.

    “And to you McDave .. quit your peevish wailing.”

    The only reason I bother is because CCN does good muckraking. If this site was useless, there’d be no point. It’d be great to see real journalism fill a huge void in SLO county. If they can’t handle deserved criticism, they’re down there with the Tribune: incapable of adapting to the web.

    “Neither of us have received ANYTHING from McDave, other than the noisy snide comments he leaves here as opinions.”

    Mccdave is a pseudonym. You don’t think I’d be dumb enough to use my name here, do you? :)

    By: Clemintine on 8/2/09
    Mr. Ramos sounds like he will be a great addition to CCN.

    It appears that John Q. Citizen is getting a news source that is really looking out for us, here on the Central Coast.

    By: Clemintine on 8/2/09
    Right on Mr. Freberg!

    And to you McDave .. quit your peevish wailing. It’s annoying and I am guessing that you are just envious that CCN has scooped you at every corner.

    By: George on 8/2/09
    I talked with Stephan this morning, neither of us have received ANYTHING from McDave, other than the noisy snide comments he leaves here as opinions. IE users have our condolences.
    We are still waiting to see his shiny cascading style sheet laden ‘model’ website, for comparison.
    “….ended up on the CCN or UncoveredSLO homepage, not the correct article. Why?”
    we want you to use your scroll wheel
    MCCD if you really want to help we need someone to fix over two hundred links that were broken during the eviction last fall.
    it’ll only take a few hours of your time, once you get used to the bondwere(designed on a mac)uh quirks:-D

    By: rogerfreberg on 8/2/09
    Are we saying that ‘form is more important than substance?’ If this was the case, the Tribune would have been hitting it outta the ball park for years.

    I care little about whether the website is state of the art… only what is being said… or in this case… exposed.

    My ‘hope’ is that George Ramos will take the same energy he obviously had in the Chandler’s Times and put it into investigating the doings of our county… and if Cal Poly fell into his purview… so much the better.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 8/2/09

    By: mccdave on 8/2/09
    “McDave, You complain frequently. Why don’t you just do your civic duty and offer CCN a little gratuitous assistance.”

    I’ve offered help more than once as well as detailed constructive criticism on technical matters. Never even a reply. They’re blind to the problems with this site and it limits their success. Spelling and grammar alone bespeak a general sloppiness — never mind the quirks in the reportage. Despite the good reporting CCN has done, one should be wary of putting their byline here.

    For instance, on the technical side, they mirror content across at least three domains and even link to their own articles on the wrong domain. I’ve found CCN articles on Google and, when I click Google’s link, ended up on the CCN or UncoveredSLO homepage, not the correct article. Why? Because CCN has f-ed up its website. Now Blackburn is doing video, a vocation that can be even more demanding in the technical and design departments than a website. Coming soon to a cable public access channel near you.

    But welcome aboard, Mr. Ramos. You must know some students who could fix this website.

    By: Cindy on 8/2/09
    McDave, You complain frequently. Why don’t you just do your civic duty and offer CCN a little gratuitous assistance.

    Welcome George and Congratulations to CCN.

    and now….. We have two George’s !!

    By: mccdave on 8/2/09
    Now if you could just hire someone who knew the rudiments of CSS. There must be any number of ten-year-olds who could fix the layout of this site.

    By: hotdog on 8/2/09
    Well, I’ll join the pack of back slappers and congratulate CCN for attracting such glorious new talent. We have been benefitting from CCN for almost two years now and my hope is for this site to enjoy the success it deserves for all the great reporting it has blessed us with.

    By: congaltonkvec920 on 8/1/09
    Glad to see George Ramos back in the reporting trenches. I see this as a clear win-win for everyone involved — especially the readers.

    By: lucky2 on 8/1/09
    I miss Dan Blackburn..He is a great person and a wonderful honest reporter. We need more good people like him around.

    By: rogerfreberg on 8/1/09
    congratulations to C.C.N. …

    I am sure with a couple more great hands , we’ll all be seeing even more interesting ‘stuff’… and make a more transparent government!

    Welcome, George to the Central Coast!


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