Nancy Brands Ward, who had been with the California alt-weekly since September, left the paper last week, the Sacramento Bee reports. According to publisher Jeff vonKaenel, Melinda Welsh will again serve as interim editor, a post she held for 13 months before Brands Ward was hired.
An envelope mailed to the News & Review last month contained a CD, a threatening note, and a metal aerosol can marked "anthrax," reports the paper. After notifying the authorities, the weekly's offices were visited by local police, hazardous-materials experts, G-men and assorted officials associated with the local Joint Terrorism Task Force. The sender turned out to be a local crank/activist named Marc Keyser, who had been the topic of a 2002 News & Review cover story on his efforts to protect a local water system from terrorist attacks. Keyser, who claimed the package was meant to alert the paper to the anthrax threat, was not prosecuted. "The FBI showed up at my door and said it caused a bit of a scare," Keyser tells the alt-weekly. "We had a nice chat. They and their families are not vaccinated. But they carry guns."
Inspired by German illustrator George Grosz, Rick Sealock takes an ornery-manner approach to his art. He distorts the humans and animals he creates in the hopes viewers will draw a social and political message from his work. The Canadian illustrator took both first-place AltWeekly Awards in Illustration this year. This is the 11th in a "How I Got That Story" series highlighting the AltWeekly Awards' first-place winners.
Reporter Stephen James is the first Californian to win a court case granting access to government information under Proposition 59, the state's open-records initiative approved by voters in November 2004. Hoping to write an article about parolees for Sacramento News & Review, he asked the California Department of Corrections for the names and addresses of recently released inmates. The department refused his request, citing privacy concerns -- even though its Web site states that an inmate's name, age, birthplace and other background information can be released to the public. A Superior Court judge ruled that the department must turn over the requested information.
Investigate reporter Gary Webb is remembered at Sacramento News & Review, where he had been on staff since August 2004. In a special feature, the paper compiles links to his articles, remembrances by friends and colleagues and retrospections upon his body of work. Webb is best known for his "Dark Alliances" series for the San Jose Mercury News and the subsequent (many contend unjust) virulent backlash against it in the mainstream press. A piece by Bill Forman and Melinda Welsh concludes with a transcript of a talk Webb gave in 1999, in which he tells his audience, "It's really kind of scary when you think about how capricious life is sometimes."