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Goodbye to a legend

January 18, 2011 1:34:04 PM PST
There are touchstone events in our lives, and there are the people who made those events happen.

A man who made one of those events happen for me died today. Dale Fetherling was a smart, strong, charming, quirky guy. And a great guy. I was lucky to know him, even luckier that he hired me at the Los Angeles Times, assigning me to what was then the biggest story of my career (a Ponzi scheme that led to a huge bankruptcy, long federal prison terms, and the resignation of a Mayor), and, in an indirect way because it was such a high-profile story, getting me a job in TV news.

Dale died this morning, a month after quintuple heart bypass surgery. He never fully recovered, although we thought he would. Some of us asked his girlfriend what he needed for his recuperation, and she admitted he needed a new bathrobe. So we bought one. It's hanging on the hook of his bathroom door. Unused and unseen by Dale. His organs failed him almost immediately, and although there were bouts of encouragement and optimism, it wasn't hard to read between the lines and realize Dale was in trouble.

He was 69, although I'll always remember him as 40, and fit and tough. He left the world of journalism and became a book author and made what seemed to be a good living from it.

And so I start the night shift with a heavy heart sad that Dale has died, but joyful that I knew him and so happy that he played such an important role in my life. He hired so many people that would became good friends, including a young woman whom I later married and had two children with. So how could I not love Dale?

(And how he would have busted my chops for ending a sentence with a preposition!)

I suspect we all have Dale Fetherlings in our lives. And I wonder when was the last time we thanked them? I'm just sayin'.

Now, to our 11 p.m. newscast. And the first in-the-community public hearing tonight on the less-than-stellar New York City performance in last month's blizzard.

The City Council is holding six of these hearings, this is the first. It will be fascinating to see if the anger that boiled over last month has legs tonight. Of course, public anger and correcting snow management policy shouldn't be connected. Let's hope that if the seething frustration of New Yorkers isn't on display tonight, it doesn't prevent City officials from planning better in the future.

Also at 11, we're going to take a closer look at something Mayor Bloomberg will propose in his State of the City address tomorrow: Allowing livery cars to pick up street hails in the "outer boroughs."

The cheers you hear are coming from drivers and would-be passengers alike.

And we have reaction to Regis Philbin's announcement today that he'll retire from his daily TV talk show this year. Regis is a legend and around here, where his show is produced, he's a bigger-than-life presence. We, like you, will miss him.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast (how slippery will it be, again, for tomorrow's commute?) and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.


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