Kramer Versus Weekly: Molding the News?
After a week providing documentation to L.A. Weekly of the false innuendos and misquotes within Daniel Heimpel’s article, “The Toxic Mold Rush: California Mom Helps Fuel an Obsession” [July 25-31, 2008], the paper’s proposed fluff corrections [see “For the Record”] indicate that L.A. Weekly is not intending to make forthright revisions to an article that is nothing short of a sensationalist hit piece. The undeserved humiliation I have suffered by being labeled a fat-fingered gadfly with saggy skin, stinky dogs, a filthy house and a trailer in my front yard, while wearing bright-red lipstick as I obsessively blog lies from my dark hovel, will remain eternally available for all to see via the Internet.
However, contrary to now-popular belief, I do venture into the sunlight. I have traveled extensively in the past four years, even renting an apartment in D.C., where I moderated a U.S. Senate staff briefing over the mold issue. I am not an alarmist “queen of mold” who shouts “toxic, dangerous, a killer!” as I was falsely quoted as saying. I am not single-handedly responsible for mold litigation across the U.S. I do not even own a “trailer.” I own a motor home. I hate bright-red lipstick.
But more importantly, I have worked diligently to remove “courtroom science” from the mold issue. There are several old tobacco scientists running this game. I have been published in medical journals about the conflicts of interest that need to go. Mr. Heimpel was made aware of this. The letter of “apology” referred to in the article that I refused to sign contained the sentence, “To my knowledge, their testimony and advice are based on their expertise and objective understanding of the underlying scientific data.” In other words, they wanted me to commit perjury and lie about what I know of the “science” they promote in the courtroom. But this statement contradicts what many have told the Congressional Government Reform Committee and the Federal GAO, including myself.
In the future, Mr. Heimpel, if you have a preconceived idea that differs from others on a subject you know little about, you should walk a mile in their shoes before you write. You had your story written before I spoke the first word. You were sucked in by old tobacco scientists’ veils of decency. You did not research the issue and even failed to mention the Wall Street Journal article by veteran investigative reporter David Armstrong, even after [you spoke] with him. He wrote a front-page exposé of the same deceit I fight against over the mold issue.
I extend my apologies to all the families harmed by the misinformation of this article. I wish I had just given Mr. Heimpel my shoes and asked him to walk at least a mile away.
Mrs. Sharon Kramer
Many comments on all sides of the mold issue are attached to Daniel Heimpel’s story.
Regarding David Ferrell’s article about the trash fee [“Antonio ‘Pinocchiosa’ and His Police Tax,” July 18-24], there are two major errors. The pull quote in the print edition states that I am “a CPA more accustomed to the film industry’s fiscal games.” Nowhere in my interview was there any discussion of film-industry practices. The studios are subject to Sarbanes-Oxley strict requirements for reporting and are regularly audited for compliance. My services do not involve the structure of any contract or payments made in connection with filming.
The second error was his description of the Neighborhood Council Valley Village as a “community watchdog group.” For the record, neighborhood councils are chartered by the city to reach out and involve the residents in issues that affect life in Los Angeles. This includes ballot measures, safety, finances, recreation — any subject with any impact on the city. Other than these two misstatements, the article correctly reflected the issues.
Paul HatfieldValley Village
For the Record
Last week’s story “The Toxic Mold Rush: California Mom Helps Fuel an Obsession,” by Daniel Heimpel, erred in stating that activist Sharon Kramer lost all but her truest friends during her battles against mold. In fact, she told the Weekly she had merely lost touch with many friends. In addition, an editing error while the article was trimmed for length made a quote from Ted Frank at overlawyered.com appear as if he was commenting on Sharon Kramer’s legal battle with scientist Bruce Kelman. Frank, however, was criticizing people and attorneys who seek monetary damages for mold in general, not the Kramer legal battle. Finally, two photo captions in the story’s layout were grouped together, making it appear that the photos might have been taken around the same time. In fact, the photo of the Kramer family on vacation was taken long after they moved out of their Lake Hodges house.
In his cover story “Parks and Wreck,” published on July 18, Matthew Fleischer stated that L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti had ordered park rangers to ticket people fishing or feeding ducks in the L.A. River. Garcetti’s office points out that the ban on fishing and duck feeding stems from L.A. County municipal code 41.22 and that the extent of the council president’s involvement is a plan to put up signs reinforcing the code.
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