One of my favorite KABC stories – printed in the Los Angeles Times


Deputy’s Tale of Rescuing Kids in Fire Not True, Neighbors Say

The officer told a TV reporter that he helped save three children from a burning home. Witnesses say he stayed with his car.

February 12, 2004 –Kevin Pang, Arlene Martinez and Monte Morin, Times Staff Writers

When smoke and flames trapped three children inside their home last week, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Martinez said he didn’t hesitate to rush in and help rescue them.

“This is what we get paid for,” Martinez told a KABC-TV Channel 7 reporter later that night for a story the station did on the daring rescue.

But on Wednesday, internal affairs investigators said the deputy had been placed on administrative leave after witnesses accused him of lying about being a hero.

Instead of dashing into the burning home, witnesses say, Martinez stayed at his cruiser, talking on the radio, while two cousins and a neighbor braved the flames and pulled the children to safety. Now investigators are trying to determine whether the 31-year-old deputy falsified official reports on the incident, and if so, whether he could face charges.

“An incident has come to our attention that involves the possibility of misrepresentation of facts involving one of our deputies,” said Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore.

The investigation stems from a Feb. 4 fire in an unincorporated area near La Puente. Martinez, 31, saw smoke billowing from a house. The 12-year-veteran said he pulled up in his cruiser after seeing people screaming and pointing to the burning building on Villa Park Street. Children were trapped inside, they told him.

The deputy said he joined a group of men who — after being repelled by a wall of smoke at the front door — broke through a bedroom window and rescued the children. Martinez told his supervisors as well as TV reporters at the scene that he had pulled a 3-year-old girl from the building.

In an interview with KABC, Martinez said:

“The adrenaline’s going, and you’re thinking of saving lives…. And we just went in there. I didn’t even hesitate. We just did it. I’ve got to give credit to the, um, citizens who also helped out. They did a really good job.”

After hearing reports of the deputy’s actions on television, however, neighbors told KABC reporter Karen Carlson that the deputy was making it all up.

Sheriff’s officials would not say exactly what prompted them to launch an investigation. But KABC News Director Cheryl Fair said Carlson became suspicious about the differing versions of the rescue and called the Sheriff’s Department the day after the fire to ask more questions about Martinez’s account.


Cystic Fibrosis Fundraising Efforts


On Thursday night, I was recognized as one of Utah’s Finest Under 40, one of 8 people (only 4 women) chosen.  As one of the honorees, I raised money and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and also wrote an essay on the spirit of helping others.  The topic of the essay was as follows:

What does being recognized as Utah’s Finest mean to you and how has volunteering for charities, such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, impacted your life?

My response garnered me with the Spirit Award.

“Mark Twain once said, “kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

I define it as something that forces nobility from the not-so-noble.  It requires us to ask a lot of others we’ve never met, to help those we hardly know.  Fighting Cystic Fibrosis is a noble and daunting task, and those who are affected have a lifelong assignment of a lesson, for which, they never signed up.

Being part of the fight allows me to use my ability to reach out to other Utahns to do good work that means so much to those affected.  The young, like Elliot, who fight everyday to make it to another birthday; those slightly older, like Ashley, who look upon each year as borrowed time, who hopes research will stay just one step ahead of her.

Knowing our efforts will go to help them and those like them, has given me great pride.  It has humbled me.  It has encouraged me.  I look forward to raising even more money next year, and have even had a volunteer or two approach me for ways to become involved in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

I know what it’s like to just want to be like everyone else.  For there is rarely a feeling as lonely as being different, especially when you’re a child.

But as we grow older, we understand being different is what makes us special.. and overcoming adversity can give us a strength that can only come from inside.  It’s almost like a hall pass that allows us to walk through life with more appreciation for it, more love of it, and more reason to want to give back to it.

What I’ve learned from this experience is that it epitomizes what is great about being Americans.. and about being Utahns.  That we can fight together in great numbers on behalf of those who need us most.

I’ll end this essay as I began it – with a quote.  This time, from a different kind of fighter, famed coach John Wooden, whom we lost just a few months ago.  He said, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

And even though we’re all being recognized tonight, I still want to thank the board. For they have helped me, in my own way, achieve that perfect day.”

My only regret about that night is that I had absolutely no idea I won, so I didn’t bring along my speech and basically sat up there and babbled on for a few minutes (big surprise!) as I accepted my award.

But I will repeat it.. this experience has challenged me, humbled me and most of all, inspired me.

Housing Crisis – a disaster I reported would happen in 2005


While I was perhaps the only reporter in the Los Angeles market who reported on the imminent decline in the housing market, this is one of a few times I could say I wished I had been wrong.

When everyone else was reporting about the “great housing market,” I did a story that was the exact opposite.. that the housing market was a disaster waiting to happen – and in the end, it ended up being the biggest ponzi scheme out there.

This story was in 2005, when everyone was buying houses they couldn’t afford even before they saw the inside.  I remember going to an open house in Glendale, California, a city next to Burbank, and seeing what could only be described as a pit.  It had window units that were noisy and didn’t really work, filthy pink carpet and a dried out pool in the back.  And, it was $720,000 dollars.  I remember thinking how wrong it was to have to fork out three quarters of a million dollars for a fixer-upper in a so-so neighborhood.  Ugh.

Now, there is a glut of houses on the market, at we all know.  I just hope we’re able to get out of the gold market before we hit $1500 an ounce!

Instead of gifts this year, how about helping sick kids?


Hi all.. for those of you who’ve asked to send a gift.. I ask for something simple this year – please donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Here is the link:

Cystic Fibrosis is a killer for children.. it affects their lungs and digestive system, and treatment can cost up to $10,000.00 a MONTH.  That’s not even for the research.  Think how much of a difference you can make instead of wasting that $10 on a DVD or toy you’re going to throw away… you can help save a life.

CHOPPED SALAD!! A lesson in horrible customer service.



I often like to blog when I find funny circumstances in public places.  Take for example, my lunch today.
There were four of us at a popular downtown restaurant.  The three women ordered salads.  We were deep in conversation about ways to help with a charity we’re working on when a waitress came by with our food.  She said, “Chopped salad?”

We sat for a second, trying to remember who ordered what.

Before anyone spoke up, she yelled, “CHOPPED SALAD!!” so loudly we all jumped a little.  A friend just grabbed the salad and the waitress slammed down the remaining food on the table.

Needless to say, we were stunned, especially since the three people I was lunching with were all in the hospitality industry and some had worked in the restaurant business for years.

My friend looked at me and joked, “Did we do something to offend her?”

The thing is, this was our first interaction with her, so that really wasn’t possible, and even if it were, what would we have had to do to make her yell at us like that?

One of the other members at the lunch table said he would have fired her on the spot.

Now, despite the delicious food that I’m enjoying as a snack right now, I don’t know that I’d go back there.