Remembering my father while working

June 30, 2009 1:46:45 PM PDT
Definition of conflict: The sad part of me that wants to leave a memorial candle burning all day for my father (he died 11 years ago today), versus the fire-safety part of me that would never leave a candle burning unattended all day. And I can hear my dad saying, "what, are you nuts? Leaving a candle burning in the house all day when no one's home?"

So I've lit and re-lit the candle several times, pausing each time to remember Irl Ritter. I've yet to do it without crying. I guess I'm not really trying.

Now, on to the 11 p.m. newscast.

Thousands of people ? moved enough apparently by the death of Michael Jackson ? to show up at the Apollo Theater in Harlem for a tribute to the troubled but talented entertainer.

Jackson's death has been nearly as controversial as his life. Why did he die still remains a mystery. And the behavior of those around him remains mysterious as well. Especially his father, Joe Jackson. He seems less a grieving father than a non-stop pitchman, hyping his new record company.

According to his children, the father was abusive to his youngest son, and their relationship was always frigid. But there's money to be had. Michael Jackson may have died hundreds of millions in debt, but his death is propelling record, DVD and memorabilia sales, and his estate figures to make much, much more than it owes.

Suddenly the rift between father and son isn't talked about by the family. Shocker.

Get ready for the latest wrinkle. Late this afternoon the lawyer for Jackson's family says a will has now materialized and that could complicate the plans of his mother, Katherine to become the estates administrator.

And now comes the grand exit strategy. Jackson's body will apparently be taken by horse-drawn carriage to his former Neverland Ranch in the hills of Santa Maria, a couple of hours from Los Angeles.

Jackson lost control of the ranch when his private life and finances spiraled out of control and he became more famous for allegations of child sex abuse than his music. But there's some loosely connected trustee now in charge, and he's opening the ranch of the boy who never grew up for a final farewell.

Should be quite a spectacle. Our Jim Dolan is in Los Angeles following developments.

Speaking of spectacles, our political reporter Dave Evans is up in Albany, again, covering the grown-ups-behaving-badly story of the month.

The New York State Senate defied a judge today, and refused to go back to their room and start sharing. Sharing power, in this case.

At one point, Democrats gathered in the chamber and then started voting on a host of bills (not mayoral control of New York City Schools, by the way), claiming that a Republican happened to walk in, and that gave them a quorum.

Unbelievable.

Tonight, an angry Gov. Paterson has ordered another session of the Senate. We'll see if anyone shows up, and have the latest at 11.

And we're following developments with the Bernie Madoff stock swindle. Now that Madoff will spend the next 150 years in prison (do you think anyone will be there to greet him when he gets out?), the focus becomes who else will be charged and what if any money will some investors who withdrew funds be forced to pay back?

There's word that as many as 10 more people are likely to be charged in the case.

And now some investors are keeping a low profile, worried that they will be part of the "clawbacks" ? money demanded of them after they actually withdrew some of their funds, money they thought was "profits." They even paid income tax on it. They'll get a refund from the IRS, but they'll also have to fork over the money. This could take years.

And we're watching developments in Iraq, where this is a day described by Pres. Obama as a marker of progress and responsibility for the Iraqi people.

U.S. troops are pulling out of responsibility for security in Baghdad ? although the commander over there is more than slightly hesitant to put a number on how many troops might be withdrawn. In fact, Gen. Ray Odierno lost his temper at reporters today when pressed about the number of troops.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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