You know a trend is over when the government shows up. So once the LAPD’s flacks hit the blogosphere, it became startling clear that the blogging revolution is officially passe. Los Angeles’ finest rolled out their blog earlier this month as part of a $238,000 redesign of the department Web site. (Apparently the LAPD brass doesn’t know about the free Blogspot. Oh, well. It’s only taxpayer money.) Through the blog, the department is reaching out to the people it once oppressed with “real-time, unfiltered information” from the men and women doing the hard work of keeping the city safe-ish. Wow. I’m sold. I want to believe The Man in Blue is cool and hip. I want to imagine that when The Man is not meting out firm but fair justice, he is sipping lattes and updating his blog with bits of personal wisdom gleaned on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Perhaps, The Man may add a snippet of cautionary haiku crafted while sweating out the uber-evildoer who had violated parole: “Men with shiny guns; Mountains of evil white powder; Pop. Pop. All fall down.” That would be an interesting blog. Too bad lapdblog.org doesn’t come close. Instead of dispatches from the dangerous dark alleys, we get press releases on a duo of scamming old ladies and sobriety checkpoints. Instead of candid or thoughtful insights by L.A.’s chief crimefighter William Bratton (“On Page Six in the New York Post again today. How did they find me in Italy!!!! LOL!”), we get crass LAPD self-promotion. If this is the unfiltered information from LAPD, please, oh please, give me the filtered version. You’ve gotta give the department points for at least trying to reach out to the public in new ways. But using a new technological gizmo or program isn’t going to reverse years of secrecy and conflict with the community. Besides, having the stodgy LAPD blog is a little like having your dad suddenly dye his salt-and-pepper hair, buy some Sketchers and flirt with girls your own age. Eww. Nor does anyone really want to hear the daily log of a life on the street. In between the few heart-pounding moments depicted with regularity on TV cop dramas are long, dull stretches of routine calls, paperwork and snack breaks. (“Lunch stop No. 1 at Wendy’s for 99-cent menu. Domestic violence call. No one at scene. Stopped at Starbucks for a latte. Took a suspicious person call. No one at scene. Got something in my eye. Maybe a bug. Stopped at McDonald’s for an eye flush and McFlurry. Followed a suspiciously slow moving vehicle. Just a car full of lost nuns.”) The site does allow for comments, which I guess does afford some community dialogue. But it’s hard to tell if many of the comments are from real live non-cop people or whether the LAPD followed the lead of a certain Los Angeles Times business columnist and made up personalities to praise itself. For example, “Former officer formby” writes of a recent in-house investigation: “Score another point for the good guys down at IA. a hero’s work is never down (sic).” And “Great coverage” wrote: “It is great to finally see some positive information about LAPD Officers. It is too bad the media does not chose to cover the great things LAPD Officers are doing every day.” In my experience, the only people to complain about the media not giving good press to the cops are the cops themselves. LAPD isn’t the first Los Angeles bureaucracy to hit the blog waves. Ed Boks has had a blog since he came to town more than six months ago to head the troubled Animal Services Department. Considering how avidly the “animal advocacy community” follows the doings in that department, and how it has run out a series of general managers in recent years, this blog makes some sense. It’ll be only a matter of time before Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa kicks off a daily blog (10 a.m. photo op with kids in South L.A. 11 a.m. photo op with president of Zimbabwe. Noon photo op with …”) We can’t let it come to this. Help our government help itself by just saying no to bureaucrat blogs. Mariel Garza is a columnist and editorial writer for the Los Angeles Daily News. Write to her by e-mail at [email protected] AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATIONAdam SilverCommissionerMay 28, 2015Dear Jody, Chadwick, Neil and Kate:Thanks for your letter and for devoting FiveThirtyEight’s considerable resources (and those of your readers/listeners) to addressing the NBA Draft Lottery.I was impressed with the detail and sophistication on display in many of the proposals — though I can’t say I’ll be riding a bear into the Lottery room any time soon. From the Tombstone Date to the Tweaked Wheel, I am grateful for the hard work of all 7,000 passionate basketball fans who took the time to examine our Draft Lottery from every conceivable angle.Of course, there can only be one winning proposal, and the work of the Futures Draft Planning Committee is a worthy champion. It is thorough, well researched and addresses many of the questions we are currently facing with the Draft Lottery; in fact, our internal Draft Lottery working team looked at models very similar to the one proposed by Samuel and Cody. While we continue to study this concept, we believe that “NBA Futures” runs into some of the same problems as other proposals we have considered — namely, by solving one potential problem, it creates a host of new ones.To elaborate, we believe the proposed system would represent a change in two major areas:First, it creates more variability; it is difficult to predict exactly where a team will finish in a particular year, so there is not a guaranteed reward for getting the first selection of a surrogate” team. However, we believe there would be a strong correlation between the selection order of surrogate teams and their actual performance (based on the high correlation of teams’ year-over-year performance). This suggests that there would indeed still be an incentive to be among the worst-performing teams in any given year.Second, “NBA Futures” delays the allocation of high draft picks to poor performing teams; for example, Team X finishes with the worst record in year 1 and gets the right to select its surrogate team first – Team . As described above, we would expect Team Y to perform poorly in year 2 more often than not, thus resulting in a high draft pick for Team X after year 2. Under our current system, Team X would get a high draft pick after year 1.It is debatable whether the goals of increased variability and delayed allocation of high draft picks to poor-performing teams are the right ones. If we were in fact seeking to accomplish these two goals, there are several approaches that might be more straightforward. For example:– To add variability, level out the odds for the worst performing teams– To delay pick allocation, tie lottery odds to performance from one year priorThe proposed system could also create strange incentives around surrogate team selection: Will teams be inclined to select a surrogate in their division or conference for competitive purposes? Will teams try to sign their surrogates top free agent simply to make them worse? There could also be situations in which a team would have incentive to contribute to its non-surrogates improvement.And even though it sounds like Samuel and Cody have thought of contingencies like no trade clauses between surrogate teams, the proposal would likely add a significant layer of complexity to the trading of draft picks.Finally, its worth noting that the timing of surrogate selection would be very important. Wherever set, it could become subject to gamesmanship by teams sequencing transactions or disclosing (or not disclosing) information, like injuries, on either side of the deadline.As you can see, while there appears to be a growing consensus that we need to reform the Draft Lottery, finding the right balance of competing interests, especially one that will gain the support of three-quarters of NBA teams (the vote required to make the change), is a work in-progress. Regardless of the outcome, all of us at the NBA thank you for your contributions to a lively debate. Please keep the ideas coming!Sincerely,(Adam Signature) Over the last month, our sports podcast “Hot Takedown” asked listeners to submit their ideas for how to fix the NBA Lottery and end tanking. We got almost 7,000 responses, some silly, most very thoughtful. We picked one — a proposal in which teams would place bets on how other teams will perform, divorcing one’s own record from one’s own lottery pick (read about it here) — and sent it off to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s office.And then we waited. Most of us (all of us) figured that was it. Usually letters to powerful sports bureaucrats go into the ether.Well, on Friday an envelope arrived in the mail from Commissioner Silver’s office. Someone had clearly read our letter and taken the time to draft a three-page response. (But, for what it’s worth, that someone had not listened to the podcast, or seen my bio page — it was addressed to “Ms.” Jody Avirgan.)The letter lauded our project, offered a detailed response to our plan, and acknowledged a “growing consensus” that the lottery needs fixing. Ultimately, though, it said the equivalent of “thanks, but no thanks.” But over three pages!Watch the video above for instant reaction from “Hot Takedown” host Chadwick Matlin and me. We’ve also posted the full text of the letter at the bottom of this post, and invite you to annotate it on Genius.We’ll dig into the details of Silver’s response soon, but here are a few quick notes.“I can’t say I’ll be riding a bear into the Lottery room any time soon,” Silver writes. Bummer. But the vision lives on.The word “tanking” does not appear in this letter.Nevertheless, in responding to the “futures” plan, Silver does say he thinks “there would still be an incentive to be among the worst-performing teams.” Not to get too Talmudic, but is his use of “still” a tacit acknowledgment that there is currently an incentive to perform poorly?It’s signed only “Adam.” Neat.It’s tough to say whether this letter, along with the other statements Silver has made about lottery reform, indicates that the NBA is truly considering or merely entertaining more creative ideas. And Silver points out that three-quarters of owners will have to approve any changes. Is mentioning that the lottery’s fate is in owners’ hands an excuse not to take bold action, or just realism?Toward the end of the letter, Silver writes that “there appears to be a growing consensus that we need to reform the Draft Lottery.” In the past, Silver has flat-out denied that players are trying to lose, but he’s also acknowledged that the Competition Committee is looking at lottery reform. Part of me appreciates his candor, and part of me is surprised that Silver is still using cautious language like “appears to be … growing.”We’ve already re-extended our invitation for Commissioner Silver to come on “Hot Takedown” to further discuss the proposals and NBA tanking. Again, you can annotate his response for yourself and listen to our original podcast discussing all the proposals below (tanking conversation starts at 17:30): More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Powered by Genius Silver’s full letter, plus your annotations: Embed Code By Jody Avirgan Adam Silver Responds To FiveThirtyEight’s Letter About The NBA Lottery Adam Silver read more