Best in Sacramento journalism – Aug. 28 to Sept. 3

Nothing like an exciting Labor Day weekend to lead to another missed self-imposed deadline.

[View the story “Best in Sacramento journalism – Aug. 28 to Sept. 3” on Storify]

Each week, I curate the best stories in the Sacramento news scene. The stories are chosen based on a combination of storytelling, difficulty, importance, depth, proximity and heart.

These stories are not necessarily the top news topics in the region. In many ways, animals invaded the local news agenda this week. Skunks are popping up everywhere, the Sacramento City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to allow city residents to raise chickens, raccoons attacked two people downtown, a 57-year-old man faces animal cruelty charges after biting a python and the Hornets shocked the Beavers in an overtime win at Oregon State.

And, yet, they don’t make my list. In addition to the above-stated criteria, originality is an important variable. All things being equal, or close to it, platform dictates consumption. You may prefer the television video report over the newspaper print report, or vice versa.  It’s not fun to split hairs on similar stories reported by each major outlet.

Now, on to the 10 best stories in Sacramento journalism:

10. “Monitoring care during medical changeovers” by Carol Crenshaw for Comstock’s

Monitoring the medication needs of our family members can lead to complications if not done properly. The potential for errors increases during a transition in care, when medical information is unavailable or in conflict. Crenshaw illustrates the problem by introducing us to Dr. Gerald Rogan, who “learned firsthand that family advocacy is key.”

9. “Sac DA will not reveal budget nor plans to prosecute” by Nick Monacelli (@nickmonacelli) for KXTV ABC Channel 10

The Sacramento County District Attorney’s office wasn’t forthcoming with Monacelli about it’s upcoming budget. “After several requests, a spokeswoman said they will provides updates to the board next week but not before then,” Monacelli reports. District Attorney Jan Scully, it seems, wanted to wait until Sept. 6 to announce that a legal settlement with Chevron would save jobs.

8. “Teen trap champion has Olympics in his sights” by Sam McManis (@SamMcManis) for The Sacramento Bee

Michael Flores, a senior at Elk Grove Charter School, used to struggle in school. Now, the two-time member of the USA National Junior Olympic trapshooting team is being recruited by Lindenwood University in Missouri and doing much better in school. “Flores has found that the concentration and discipline he has developed as an international trapshooter helps in all aspects of his life,” McManis writes. “Yes, even rote schoolwork.”

7. “Funding limitations, competing priorities stall bikeway development” by John Schumacher for Comstock’s

While Davis is home to the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame, Sacramento is no slouch. More people are cycling to work and the city continues to add on-street bike lanes and off-street bike paths. However, challenges complicate further cycling growth. “Funding limitations, physical barriers and competing priorities stand between the Capital Region and its aspirations to join the likes of Minneapolis or Portland, Ore.,” Schumacher writes.

6. “Regs Run Amok: SMUD’s ‘solar highways’ face many regulatory speed bumps” by Foon Rhee for The Sacramento Bee

Rhee highlights regulatory red tape that makes you want to bang your head against the wall. The environment review process is slowing projects, including solar highways along Highway 50, that would help the environment by providing clean energy. “One of the biggest barriers is the rigmarole of regulations – layers and layers of local, state and federal permitting and planning that can be as slow as molasses,” Rhee writes.

5. “Public enemies” by Cosmo Garvin (@cosmog) for the Sacramento News & Review

Public employees don’t feel particularly secure these days. They’ve been furloughed, fear layoffs and face a battle for their benefits. “Now government workers are clinging fiercely to the security promised by those government pension plans,” Garvin writes. “And their critics are trying just as aggressively to strip them of those rights.”

4. “Cost of high-speed rail project balloons” by Tim Sheehan (@tsheehan) for The Fresno Bee, The Sacramento Bee, California Watch, The Bakersfield Californian, The Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle and The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise

The cost of building 520 miles of high-speed train tracks between San Francisco and Los Angeles continues to rise. Once projected at $43 billion, the California High-Speed Rail Authority now estimates the system will cost $67.3 billion. “Research shows that for decades, cost overruns are the rule rather than the exception for big transportation projects in general, and for big rail projects in particular,” Sheehan writes. “And California’s proposed high-speed train system is a biggie.”

3. “State Worker Salary Search” by Phillip Reese for The Sacramento Bee

The state worker pay database is one of the most popular features at sacbee.com. Reese updated the database this week to include the 2010 pay of University of California employees. Try not to lose 15 minutes searching and comparing.

2. “The Day That Damned The Dodgers” by Lee Jenkins (@SI_LeeJenkins) for Sports Illustrated

Nothing’s gone right for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Disarray defines the 2011 season. But this isn’t a story about front office turnover, the McCourt divorce, bankruptcy or league seizure. It’s a story about a 42-year-old paramedic from Santa Cruz visiting Chavez Ravine to watch his San Francisco Giants on Opening Day. “The Dodgers’ season was less than four hours old and the stadium was already a crime scene,” Jenkins writes.

1. “See who is lobbying any bill in California” by Chase Davis (@chasedavis) for California Watch

No one loves massively distributed data entry like Davis. The director of technology at California Watch built a searchable database linking bills to lobbying in quarterly reports. “Don’t look at these results as gospel,” Davis writes. “Each result returned by our database also includes a link to the original reports, so if something looks wrong, by all means verify it.”

What do you think? Did I miss a story? Don’t agree with my ranking? Tell me in the comments section.

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