KNBC’s Grover: Local Crusader

Oct 12, 2008  •  Post A Comment

As an experienced investigative reporter for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, Joel Grover has been doing exemplary work for a dozen years, and has been recognized with a slew of awards, including the Peabody, 16 Emmys and five National Edward R. Murrow Awards. He knows quite a bit about reporting and recently has done two major environmental pieces.
“I’m fortunate at KNBC that I have a lot of latitude to pursue the stories that I’m interested in, and everything I do I feel a real passion about. These two stories especially so,” said Mr. Grover.
One was of particular importance to Mr. Grover because it deals with children. As the father of twin 15-month-olds, he was particularly upset to learn that there was lead in the drinking water at L.A. public schools. “This was more than an environmental story,” said Mr. Grover. He and his team spent three months investigating Los Angeles County schools, discovering that thousands of children had been drinking from water fountains in which they found an unsafe amount of lead. To make matters worse, district officials had known about the problem for years but never told the public.
“Lead over a long period of time can affect brain development,” Mr. Grover said. “A kid wouldn’t be sick for a week or a month, but it has long-term effects on learning.”
After KNBC’s story, there were hearings about the problem and promises were made to do districtwide testing in all 800 L.A. schools. “On the November ballot, there is a school bond measure that if passed, would allocate $50 million to get the lead out of the water in the schools through a variety of means,” he said.
The other major environmental story, “Contaminated,” won a Murrow Award. Mr. Grover’s broadcast uncovered health hazards at one of Los Angeles’ two wholesale produce markets, the Seventh Street Produce Market downtown. “This is where thousands of Southern California restaurants and stores get their fruits and vegetables. Like most major cities, L.A. has a wholesale market where restaurants and markets come to buy their food,” said Mr. Grover.
The market supplied millions of people in California, Arizona and Nevada. “The story began when we got a tip from a whistleblower, someone who was a vendor at the Seventh Street Market,” said Mr. Grover. “The conditions there were violating state and county health regulations. He said the health inspectors scoffed at his complaints—repeatedly. He had left the market, refusing to work there, but he felt that something had to be done.”
First the producers did initial research on their own, verifying the tip. “The tipster had hundreds of photos to back up his claim—pictures of rodent-gnawed boxes of produce and broken pipes and filth. But you can’t commit months documenting and investigating a problem if we’re not really confident that it exists,” said Mr. Grover.
“We don’t break the law. We walk into places and if we’re asked to leave, we do. Nobody asked us to leave the market when we went in.” After two days, they knew they had a story.
They planned a two-prong attack—first, the undercover portion, in which they spent months at the market documenting the filthy conditions, which the Health Department knew about; and second, confronting the inspectors. Week after week, KNBC cameras documented filthy conditions such as workers dumping trash wherever they please and workers picking up produce off the sludgy ground and selling it as though it were clean.
Thanks to KNBC and Mr. Grover’s story, the owners of the market spent a fortune cleaning the place, which is now spotless.
Los Angeles is a huge city, but it’s not unique. “My advice to environmental journalists is that if you work in a major city, there is a wholesale produce market like this where restaurants get their produce,” said Mr. Grover. “It is a story that is worth looking into. Many health departments in major cities are lax.
“If you don’t have an insider like we did, the first thing to do is pull the inspection records. And a good reporter can go into these markets and just talk to people. We do a lot of undercover work. You can do this kind of story—and the lead story, too—with just a little bit of old-fashioned journalism.”

115 Comments

  1. khaxozf ydkapv

  2. Joel
    I think you might get a kick out of this video. I am the one who wrote to you earlier in the year with the Chevy Truck involved with a Lemon Law case
    against General Motors. We are preparing for Depos and getting ready for trial. Nothing has changed but their name. If GM’s idea of change is anything like President Obama’s, we have nothing new to look foward to! And what a waste of our tax dollars. Enjoy the video! It tells the truth!!!!!!
    http://www.gmretardation.com/

  3. Joel
    I think you might get a kick out of this video. I am the one who wrote to you earlier in the year with the Chevy Truck involved with a Lemon Law case
    against General Motors. We are preparing for Depos and getting ready for trial. Nothing has changed but their name. If GM’s idea of change is anything like President Obama’s, we have nothing new to look foward to! And what a waste of our tax dollars. Enjoy the video! It tells the truth!!!!!!
    http://www.gmretardation.com/

  4. Joel
    I think you might get a kick out of this video. I am the one who wrote to you earlier in the year with the Chevy Truck involved with a Lemon Law case
    against General Motors. We are preparing for Depos and getting ready for trial. Nothing has changed but their name. If GM’s idea of change is anything like President Obama’s, we have nothing new to look foward to! And what a waste of our tax dollars. Enjoy the video! It tells the truth!!!!!!
    http://www.gmretardation.com/

  5. Mr. Grover, I heard your comments the other day about the water situation. Well I have a business at 14843 Bessemer st. Van Nuys. I have been here for over thirty years. I am right across from the Orange line bus way. Our wonderful city officials have recently installed a large water line next to the busway and have planted all kinds of plants and trees that need a lot of water. We even have 15 large palm trees that we really needed (ha ha).They water this area all different times. I contacted my council office a while back and they said that they were testing. My street here is very narrow. It is a commercial business street and when a truck goes by there is no room so you have to move over. I asked the councilman to widen the street up to the busway which would eliminate the need to have vegetation and watering. They said there is no money to do this but they had money to install a waterline and plant and now have to maintain this area which I think is a lot more expensive. I may be rambling on a little, but I do believe there is a story of waste here and I would love to talk to you about it. You can reach me at 1-818-787-7634, Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 am to 5;PM. Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

  6. JOEL:
    I am quite upset about a CNN story and a L A Times article regarding the desecration of graves and the improper disposal of human remains at Eden Memorial Park, Mission Hills, Calif and the Law Suit that has been filed.
    As a parent of a child who is buried at Eden, I am very concerned if this alleged happening could have happened to her………
    I have spoken to both the Director of Eden and the Attorney preparing the case against them. I found little compassion for the families who have entrusted their loved ones to Eden for tender care.
    Eden seems to be worried about what this is going to cost them and have allowed the Attorneys for them to direct their actions which are to answer phone calls and talk to people who drop in. They had no plans to send a letter to the families who have loved one’s their explaining their side and what they are planning on doing. After a lengthly call I was told that they would submit my suggestion to the attorneys.
    The Attorney preparing the case for his client (and at this point I can only figure out there is only one in a Class Action Suit) seems to be seeking people to come forward
    with any information to add to his case……..I did learn of the entire Floria Case and when I told him (as Eden told me) that Eden did not own the property at the time, he said that they were the owners of record and made a very large settlement. Eden had told me they had no choice…….
    I know that there are many families out there that will be put on an emotional roller coaster if this does not get properly investigated and one way or another gets settled.
    I hope that you can help out these people and myself. It seems so strange to me that this would have happened prior to the Jewish New Year…..
    I can be reached at 818 346 9651 or bbduck@webtv.net
    Thank you for any help you can give me.
    Barbara Kaye

  7. Joel: I am a cuastomer of Direct TV since2001 for the last 6 months they have called me wanting to upgrade my receiver and they told me that it was free!! Finally I agreed.
    Now they increased my monthly charges(I am retired person)and they tell me that i am obligated to a 24 month lease! and if i cancell there will be a charge of penalty of several hundres of dollars!!
    I asked them to produce a cotract with my signature of agreement but after several E mails i have no yet seen such a contract.Can you tell me what i can do?
    sincerely
    Vito E.Antifora

  8. Costco store sells a black doll called “Little Monkey” I can e-mail you the pictures. I need your e-mail address.

  9. Dear Joel,
    I need to speak with you about the injustice that our water provider is doing to me and my community. They have given me and my community a 70 to 80% allocation of our 2008 water bill and are forcing us to pay a penalty of $3.00 per unit over their allocation. Last month I received an $800.00 penalty after reducing my consumption nearly 40%. We cannot survive with such a cut in our water allocation. Please call me.
    Keene Engineering Company
    Wayne “Jerry” Keene
    20201 Bahama St.
    Chatsworth, CA 91311
    Tel: 818-993-0411
    Fax:8128-993-0447
    Email: ceo@keeneeng.com

  10. Dear Joel,
    I need to speak with you about the injustice that our water provider is doing to me and my community. They have given me and my community a 70 to 80% allocation of our 2008 water bill and are forcing us to pay a penalty of $3.00 per unit over their allocation. Last month I received an $800.00 penalty after reducing my consumption nearly 40%. We cannot survive with such a cut in our water allocation. Please call me.
    Keene Engineering Company
    Wayne “Jerry” Keene
    20201 Bahama St.
    Chatsworth, CA 91311
    Tel: 818-993-0411
    Fax:8128-993-0447
    Email: ceo@keeneeng.com

  11. Dear Joel,
    It appears that I made a mistake in quoting the allocation given to my community. The allocation was reduced 70% to 80% of our 2008 allocation.
    To further explain, last year I used 2500 units for my 2,5 acres and this year I was given only 500 units. I hope that this explains my previous error.
    Jerry Keene

  12. Dear Joel,
    It appears that I made a mistake in quoting the allocation given to my community. The allocation was reduced 70% to 80% of our 2008 allocation.
    To further explain, last year I used 2500 units for my 2,5 acres and this year I was given only 500 units. I hope that this explains my previous error.
    Jerry Keene

  13. Dear Joel,
    This is my second request to be acknowledged by you or your staff. My plight is that our local Water Department (Las Virgines Water Department) that serves over 20,000 homes in the SF Valley has cut our water supply 70 to 90% of last years allocation while they are only being cut 20% by The California Metropolitan Water Distict. Our community really needs your help on this issue.
    Wayne “Jerry” Keene
    20201 Bahama St.
    Chatsworth, CA 91311
    Tel: 818-993-0411
    Fax:8128-993-0447
    Email: ceo@keeneeng.com

  14. My son Adam Stern & his girlfriend Merysa are compositors/special effects artists, living in a tiny apt. They put $14,000 down on a house but were unable to get a loan, even though Adam & his team won an Emmy for JOHN ADAMS & they earn good money. The seller won’t return their deposit & they had to hire a lawyer. Can you help them? He’s written to BBB and the Real Estate Board, but nothing is happening. It’s frustrating! They really want to buy a home. He is having surgery 12/8/09. She is working. He will get a job after the holidays when he has recuperated. Thanks for your help!
    Marlene Sadan (424)603-4977. Adam’s #s are (213)250-7287, Cell: (323)251-6860.

  15. Mr. Grover, I have a major series of problems that have become overwhelming. I am cought in our economic downturn as so many thousands are. I graduated in 1970 from CSUN with a BS in Finance; have been and Audit Mgr for Bullocks No., a Store Controller for Mont. Wards; owned my own group of clothing stores for six years and more. I was in the Army during the Vietnam War(1967-69); and spent three and a half months in Cedars Sini in 1985 with terminal bone cancer(but didn’t die). My oncologist said God had other plans for me. With all that, and much more, I am trying to find work unsuccessfully for a number of months; trying to save my home from forclosure by working a modification yet not in a working situation with the B of A. Please contact me to give me a sounding board and someone I can trust to atleast give me some direction. Thank you so much for sparing me a few moments.
    Respectfully,
    Dan Levine
    805-231-5203
    lamby1@pacbell.net

  16. Hi Joel,
    Wonder if you could enlighten us as to why the public stairway leading from southwest of Entrada on Ocean Ave. (across from Mabery) up to
    Adelaide Dr. in Santa Monica, is blocked by a fence and gate with a sign that says “private property-keep out”. This blockage is at the residence of 145 Adelaide Dr., Santa Monica, 90402.
    thanks, SL

  17. hey joel . . .here’s a good one for you . . . re: match.com . . . i’ve sent 2 “novels” to a lady who seems exceptionally beautiful & very interested in me . . only problem . . she hasn’t rec’d either “novel” as she requested of me . . . .the e-mail said . . .”message is on it’s way” and never said, msg. too long, or anything to make me think i couldn’t send her a novel as requested . . . . i’d love to here from you, as i think this would make “great” air-time . . . . as match.com is a nationwide dating service & have not followed thru with “their promise” . . . .i’m copying all i can right now re: the former e-mail . . . .i’ll be contacting an attorney type tomorrow ( a sort of relative) in long beach, ca. unless that would void you getting involved with this request . . . . . match.com is happy to take your $119+ for 6 months, but have failed on the4th request to post further pictures of me on my profile . . . . . needless to say, i’m a lot pissed as this woman i’m trying to communicate with seems like “THE LOVE OF MY LIFE” and at 63, i feel a need to do as God suggested in genesis 2:18 . . . . . PLEASE RESPOND TO THIS E-MAIL B/4 I CONTACT MY ATTORNEY, AS I KNOW IT WOULD TAKE IT OUT OF YOUR HANDS, AND I’D SO LOVE IT TO BE IN YOUR HANDS . . . .P.S., o.k., i’ll stop yelling . . . .i’m a lifetime fan of channel 4 in l.a. . . . . my grandparents on my maternal side moved here in 1903 & on my paternal side in 1907 . . . . i have proof of the aforementioned & would be glad to show it to you . . . . .p.s.s., i will also have a conversation with an l.a.superior court judge, should i not here from you . . . . .if you request, i will provide names & conversation records of my contacts with the attorney & the judge as i’m very upset, yhes, PISSED

  18. Joel, this is re: match.com misrepresenting themselves in 2 areas . . . .e-mails sent & putting pictures on my profile . . .i am copying as much as possible about match.com’s requirements as well as you could . . .i’m a lifelong viewer of channel 4 . . . both news & programs . . .i firmly believe match.com is misrepresenting their promise & promise that they’re concerned about their clients . . . all the while being happy to collect $119 for 6 months for their service . . . i think this would be good fodder for your avenue ! ! ! if you don’t agree, i’ll be in contact with an attorney type & an l.a.superior court judge(a friend) for counsel , ,thanks, mark

  19. Joel
    You need to look into this company. (bestresortrentalandsale.com).
    They are scam artist that advertise selling and renting timeshares. They ask for money upfront to get your credit card and personal information to use for fraud. They are also targeting the elderly. They have been running this scam all accross the country and changing their business names before the authorities catch up with them. Their customers have complaints filed with the BBB and with the Attorney General’s office and they are still in operation. You are our best hope!!!!!!!!
    Look at the following:
    http://www.ripoffreport.com/telemarketers/resort-equity-market/resort-equity-marketing-vacat-357wy.htm

  20. I just tried to grab the RSS Feed for your site and for some reason it ain’t properly displaying in Google Chrome. Does anyone have any ideas???

  21. I tried grabbing the feed for the RSS to your blog and I am not sure why, but it is not properly showing up in Google Chrome. Any suggestions??

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  29. Joel: you are the ONLY one I can ask about the following info:
    Remember the proposition that we all voted on a couple of years ago RE: the “Native American gaming expansion”
    where a win/win vote allowed the Indians to expand their slot machines and the State would enjoy extra revenue? The results have been FAR FROM TRANSPARENT!
    no news AT ALL!

  30. Joel: you are the ONLY one I can ask about the following info:
    Remember the proposition that we all voted on a couple of years ago RE: the “Native American gaming expansion”
    where a win/win vote allowed the Indians to expand their slot machines and the State would enjoy extra revenue? The results have been FAR FROM TRANSPARENT!
    no news AT ALL!

  31. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  32. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

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