What Would YOU Ask Elena Kagan?

Elena Kagan continues to make the rounds on Capitol Hill to lobby for her confirmation this summer. She’s met with several Democrats and some swing Senate Republicans in the days after her nomination. While Kagan lobbies, Senators get a chance to ask her questions before the formal confirmation hearings with the Judiciary Committee. But what if you were a Senator for one day, what question would you ask Elena Kagan?

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Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .


DC Metro Record Fare Hike Coming?

The decision has been put off for a couple weeks, but Washington’s Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will be raising rates to close a $189 million dollar budget shortfall. The only questions are which fares go up and by how much. WTOP’s Ari Ashe got reaction to some of these proposals from listeners.

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Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .

Published in: on May 16, 2010 at 6:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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POTUS Nominates Elena Kagan, What Happens Now?

President Obama has nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Now comes the “getting to know you” phase, in which Kagan will visit key Senators and answer questions about her background and personal opinions on key legal issues. This process will take several weeks and lead up to Senate Judiciary Committee hearings this summer. I spoke with Michael O’Neill, Professor of Law at George Mason University and the former Senate Judiciary Chief Counsel and Staff Director during the Samuel Alito and John Roberts hearings in 2006. O’Neill told me what happens in the days after the nomination inside the halls of the US Senate.

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PRODUCERS HAT: An A+ producer has plenty of resources and prepares for these events ahead of time. I posted an article about how to prepare and I hope you did! We spoke to Thomas Goldstein, who publishes SCOTUSBlog and is a partner at Akin-Gump (a DC Law firm). He’s very good at analyzing Supreme Court news and he spoke with WTOP’s Dimitri Sotis.
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Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .

DC Teachers Contract Close to Completion

After several weeks of back and forth, DC officials say they’ve found a way to pay for a $140 million deal with city teachers. The contract appeared to be in trouble last month when DC Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi refused to ratify the contract until Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee raised nearly $64 million in public money. Until now, the Mayor had come up $10.7 million short. Fenty, Rhee and Gandhi say they’ve devised a $38.8 million package of budget cuts to close the funding gap in the contract.

Gandhi wouldn’t ratify the previous contract because much of the money was from private contributions, which had several conditions that seemed too onerous. About half of the package will come from federal funds and the rest will come from school programs such as after-school programs, and a math intervention program for the middle schools. The deal, if approved, would give DC teachers a 20-percent raise over the next five years.

Take a listen to my reports and let me know what you think!

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Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .

An Icon of Sports Broadcasting Passes Away

Ernie Harwell, the voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years, who also spent time in Baltimore, has died at 92. Harwell spent 55 years in broadcasting, joining Mel Allen, Jack Buck, Harry Caray and others among the game’s most famous play-by-play voices.

He announced Detroit games on radio from 1960-1991, again in 1993 and from 1999-2002. He broadcast games on over-the-air and cable television from 1960-64 and 1994-98.

Harwell retired in 2002 and spent his final years in Michigan. The legendary broadcaster died after a battle with cancer.

PRODUCER HAT: The first question in breaking news– who do you want to get on-air to comment? Three places to always search:

1) Archives: Who commented on similiar stories in the past? In this case, we had some good resources from when Harry Kalas died a few years ago.
2) Media Guides: All major sports have media guides, including baseball. They have several home phone numbers for people who cover each team, including Detroit.
3) Books: Did anyone ever write a book about Ernie Harwell? Yup, Tom Keegan co-wrote his autobiography.

I have to give all the credit to my anchors. You call the play, then your guys execute it. And they did it flawlessly.

Take a listen!

WTOP’s Nathan Roberts speaks to Detroit News Sports Columnist Lynn Henning:
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WTOP’s Dimitri Sotis speaks to sports broadcasting historian Curt Smith:
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Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .

Getting Your Thoughts on Arizona’s Immigration Law

Arizona’s illegal immigrant law won’t kick in until summer, but there’s already heated debate on both sides going on in the courtroom, in Congress and in towns across America.

WTOP TALKBACK: What’s your opinion of Arizona’s immigration law?

Take a listen to my two reports and let me know what you think!

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Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .

Published in: on May 4, 2010 at 1:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Developments in the Brian Betts Case

Three arrests Monday and one Tuesday in the murder of DC Middle School Principal Brian Betts.

Alante Saunders, Sharif Tau Lancaster and Deontra Gray, all eighteen years old, are charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery.

And Lancaster’s mother 46-year old Artura Williams, is charged with using the principal’s credit card the day after he died.

WTOP’s team coverage begins with what police believe is the motive.

Take a listen and let me know what you think (my wrap is the last one)!

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Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .

Should Parents Spank Their Children?

A study from Tulane University this month finds children who are spanked frequently as toddlers are more likely to be aggressive when they being kindergarten.

“Toddlers that are spanked more frequently at age 3 are at increased risk for being more aggressive at age 5,” said Catherine Taylor, assistant professor of Community Health Sciences at Tulane and lead author of the study. “We found this to be true even after taking into account other factors that might have explained this association such as the parents’ level of stress, depression, use of drugs or alcohol, and the presence of other aggression within the family.”

The researchers studied 2,500 mothers and found 54.4% spanked their children at least once per month, 45.6% reported no spankings.

WTOP TALKBACK: Do you think spanking a child is an acceptable form of discipline?

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Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .

New Tarmac Rules Meant to Make Air Travel Smoother

On Thursday, new rules will go into effect that set a three-hour time limit for airlines to keep passengers on the tarmac to take off or land. 

Secretary Ray LaHood told reporters that airlines who violate the policy do so at their own peril.  The fine could run $27,500 per passenger.

“There will be strong enforcement,” LaHood told reporters in a conference call. “I just think that has to part of our plan to make sure that passengers understand and that airlines understand we’re serious about this.”

After three hours, planes must return to a gate unless the flight’s captain decides its unsafe to do so or it would interfere with airport operations.  The rule also requires airlines to provide passengers with working toilets and, after two hours, food and water.

WTOP TALKBACK: What’s the worst experience you’ve had with an airline? Take a listen to my reports and let me know what you think!

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Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Are You Prepared for the Next Supreme Court Nomination?

If you aren’t ready, why not? Remember the old Boy Scouts motto: “Always be prepared”. Nothing could be more true for a producer. If you can’t be prepared for what you know is coming, then you’ll be lost when the unexpected hits. And trust me, it will happen!

If the past is any indicator, President Obama will name his nominee around mid-May, so you should begin your homework now.

Who’s on the President’s list? Here’s a list I’ve compiled from several news outlets:

1) Elena Kagan, Solicitor General

2) Judge Diane Wood ot the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

3) Judge Merrick Garland of the DC Court of Appeals.

4) Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan

Those four are considered the frontrunners.  Does that mean you prepare for only these four?  NO!  Like a Professor who provides 8 essay questions and says 4 will show up on the final exam, you could “guess” and prepare for 6.  But, what happens if you’re wrong? The A+ student is ready for all 8 options. The A+ producer is the same.

Here are the other “less likely” names on the list: Janet Napolitano, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Cass Sunstein, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.


Very good question. There are several categories of people you can target.

1) Supreme Court Watchers: These people are often either lawyers who argue before the Court frequently. It’s up to you to do the homework, but here’s one freebie: Thomas Goldstein. He’s a Supreme Court specialist at Akin-Gump in Washington DC and he runs SCOTUSBlog.com. He’s a highly sought after guest and he’s always insightful into Supreme Court matters.

2) Constitutional Scholars: These are people who follow constitutional issues, not necessarily the Courts. They comment on the key issues and how someone reads the Constitution. Law school professors often call this “Constitutional Interpretation” and some categories include: Literalism, Normative, Original Intent.

3) Professors of Law: These people teach law, teach the Court and follow current events. Two schools with great resources are Georgetown and Stanford Universities. In fact, Stanford has it’s own Supreme Court Litigation Clinic with several great professors who follow the courts.

4) Think Tanks: Many of them have constitutional law guys. But do your research! Several think-tanks have specific political tints.

5) Journalists: There’s good news-bad news here. Journalists who follow the Court will not give you a partisan analysis, but there will not likely be much analysis either. Reporters don’t state their opinion, they just state the facts. Nonetheless, Joan Biskupic covers the Court for USA Today and Linda Greenhouse at Yale University use to cover it for the New York Times.

6) Former Clerks: Lots of these former clerks are now lawyers and Professors, but I separate them here because every one of these potential nominees have had clerks. Who knows Merrick Garlan or Diane Wood better than a former clerk who worked for them? 


The best resources available come from newspapers, radio and TV. Go into the archives for the Washington Post, New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and see who they quote in Supreme Court articles. You can similiarly go into the archives for CNN, Fox News, NBC, CBS, PBS, ABC. Go to their websites. Or consider Lexis-Nexis. It’s a paid service and it’s not cheap, but you’ll get access to more data than you can handle. If you don’t want to pay, don’t worry. Lexis-Nexis offers free access to TV Transcripts for the major news outlets. Surf around the ‘Net and you’ll find some good stuff. The same applies to radio outlets like CBS, CNN, ABC, and Fox News.   Or, go the library and do some digging. Go back to your college roots.

My home always has a huge stack of newspapers, transcripts and lists piled up. That’s how my Rolodex has 2,500 names and growing!


Three places are the best way to track down phone numbers for any topic: Google, USSearch.com, White Pages. Lets say you want to find me: Ari Ashe. Where is WTOP? Washington D.C. Google it and you find my work number is 202-895-5000. How about where I live? Go to USSearch.com and type my name in. You’ll find me. And then go to the White Pages, type in my name and city. You’ll find me. Not every source will have their number listed, but many do.


Questions or Comments? Feel free to E-Mail Ari , post a comment on this blog, or send a message on Facebook or LinkedIn .