Archive for December 19th, 2012

Last night I dropped by the Fiesta down the street and I noticed that one lottery gizmo was missing and the other self serve lottery kiosk was unplugged.  It turns out they are being returned because the store is closing in 11 days.  The store is a goner.  That is way too bad.  It is real!

Commentary said the following a couple of weeks ago:

I don’t have a problem with what Bob Costas said the other night on guns and violence.  Of course, it ain’t going anywhere.  There are multiple murders in movie theaters, post offices, shopping malls, schools, college campuses, and restaurants and nothing changes.   The shootings continue.  To some folks it is not even a big deal.

Maybe now it is a bigger deal but who is next?

This past October 3, 2012 was the last time the team wore the brick red.  They lost to the Cubbies up at Wrigley.  Who made the last out for the ‘Stros?

Here is a Chron story about Wayne Dolcefino today by David Barron that is in the hard copy but not to everyone online:

December 18, 2012 05:22 PM

Wayne Dolcefino has not gone undercover. He can still be seen around lunchtime at any number of Asian restaurants between Houston and his home in Katy, in keeping with his half-joking commentary on life and journalism – "I like a little sweet with my sour."

He still mingles with government workers and politicians, speaking to a luncheon meeting of women in government recently, and joins former co-workers at weekly gatherings at a Midtown restaurant.

But he’s no longer presenting journalism with a show-business flair on KTRK (Channel 13), and he won’t be appearing in that role on any other Houston media outlet for months, if ever.

Instead, Dolcefino has staked out a new career path following last month’s announcement that he had left Channel 13 after 26 years. He has formed a company called Dolcefino Communications that will deal with media training, crisis communications, political consulting and opposition research.

In short, he said, "I’m now going to help people deal with jerks like me. If I haven’t perfected that, I’m in trouble."

That doesn’t mean Dolcefino has given up the nose for news that made him arguably Houston’s best-known TV reporter for more than a quarter-century, and it doesn’t mean he’s gone soft on public employees who misuse the public’s trust.

"I haven’t lost my passion for exposing people who do bad things," he said. "I got just as much enjoyment out of the last month of doing that as I did when I first started."

That attitude, however, leads to the first question people ask Dolcefino these days: Why did he resign? Not surprisingly, given the nature of separation agreements between TV stations and high-profile employees, his answers are guarded.

"The station’s comments in the press release that I left is it," he said. "I’m not at liberty to talk about why. Things end. Marriages end.

"I have been a reporter since I was 18 years old. Long time. Will I ever be a reporter again? I don’t know. I just don’t. My life is my family here. I’m a Houstonian first, and my family is more important than whether I work as a journalist or as a consultant or who knows.

"Someday I may have another TV life. I may have a radio life. I really don’t know. I really don’t."

He will not address the popular theories: that he was eased out through the influence of politicians or business leaders on whom he has reported over the years, or that Channel 13 was trying to limit the scope of his reporting or steer him back into daily reporting duties.

He does wish to make it clear, however, that health issues – Dolcefino has multiple sclerosis – were not a concern.

"I’m not sick, and I’m not retiring. I’ll be 56 this month, and I have two kids who are going to college," he said. "I have MS, but it doesn’t impact what I do or how I do it. It affects how I feel sometimes, and anyone with MS knows what I mean.

"But the last thing I want is for people with MS to think that my health had gotten me. I think when they see people like me and (Channel 13 colleague) Melanie Lawson and Neal Cavuto (of Fox News) and see us working through it, it gives them hope."

His reputation for relentless pursuit of a story survives in one odd fashion: Some have speculated, he said, that his departure from Channel 13 is a scam designed to gain the trust of clients who he will then expose on the air. That is not the case, he said.

Dolcefino’s time at Channel 13 was defined by two elements: his "Hurricane Wayne" era, covering storms along the Gulf Coast, and his "13 Undercover" pieces on topics ranging from the "cocaine trail" from South America to Houston to the misuse of public funds or improper conduct by city, county or school district employees.

The undercover efforts, he acknowledges, were made possible in large part because of Channel 13’s support in time and resources.

Dolcefino was known for show-business trappings like wearing a Hawaiian shirt and playing the song "Don’t Worry, Be Happy" to report on the Port of Houston’s cruise ship terminal. And he revels in stories such as the time he went Dumpster diving to obtain records about Houston ISD’s bilingual teacher program.

Mixing news with production was a technique Dolcefino said he learned from Channel 13’s legendary consumer reporter Marvin Zindler.

"Marvin used to say he was an entertainer, not a journalist. I was a journalist who liked to entertain," he said. "You want people to remember the stories, or they don’t have impact."

Dolcefino, of course, was not universally popular. He said he received taunts of "serves you right" when he was stricken a few years ago with Bell’s palsy, a form of facial paralysis, and has received threats of various types over the years.

"A lot of people in government thought I was a jerk," he said. "But the reality is that the nice way didn’t work. They walk over nice people."

While KTRK has removed Dolcefino’s bio page from its website, the station’s 13 Undercover page still trumpets his Harris County investigations. Dolcefino said he hopes Channel 13 continues its "Undercover" brand.

"It would be a horrible mistake for TV stations to move away from the kind of investigative reporting like I did or the kind of consumer reporting that Marvin did," he said. "It’s about loyalty. People have to believe you care about them and you’re fighting for them.

"It’s invaluable. As a consultant, I would argue that it’s a necessity."

For now, however, Dolcefino plans to lend his news sense and experience to people and companies on the other side of the lens.

"I think I have a skill set that can help some people," he said. "There will be people who will want to hire me because they want the other side to know they have Wayne Dolcefino on their team.

"I hope that part of my company will be a place to help people right wrongs. I hope there are ways I can help people expose miscarriages of justice. And if somebody has a problem, if they’re not getting their message out or feel they’re unfairly being to taken to task, I think they deserve to be helped."

He has no aspirations to seek political office but retains strong feelings about the manner in which officeholders should conduct themselves.

"People should pay attention to who they put in office and make sure they deserve to stay there, not just because their name is familiar or they’ve been there for a long time, but because they are committed to doing the right thing for the public," he said.

"I hope that in whatever I do, I can stay engaged and stay in the public and find a way to fight those battles."

In fact, he has a suggestion for county commissioners: Would you believe Wayne Dolcefino, Harris County Inspector General?

"I think it would be fun to get that job and say to the county, ‘I will expose waste, and you give me a percentage of the money you save,’ " he said. "That would be so much fun. Can you imagine the looks on peoples’ faces when I showed up?

"Plus," he said, laughing, "I hear they have good pensions in government."

Wayne Dolcefino grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and moved with his family to Austin in 1968 as part of what he described as "the first wave of Yankee refugees."

He began working in radio during a five-year stay at the University of Texas, which ended 12 hours short of a degree, and worked for an Austin radio station before coming to Houston to work for KTRH (740 AM).

He has been married for 15 years, and time with his family has supplanted past outside pursuits such as his stint as percussionist with former state Rep. Ron Wilson’s band, Miss Francis and the Rhythm Fish.

We will see.  He’s pI__ed off a lot of folks and one pro told me yesterday she would never be on the side of folks that hired Wayne.  Do you hire Wayne at your own peril?  Stay tuned!

Tyler Green of course made the last out for the ‘Stros wearing the brick red.

Carlos Pena and his 2012 .197 batting average says he wants to be a leader in the clubhouse next season.  Oh, well!


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