Evan Halper to head LAT's Sacto bureau

Evan Halper succeeds Virginia Ellis as chief of the Los Angeles Times bureau in Sacramento. Here's the memo sent to the troops about 5 p.m.:

To: The Staff
From: David Lauter, California Editor

I'm happy to announce that Evan Halper, who has compiled an exceptional record of covering the dysfunction of California's state government, will be our next Sacramento Bureau Chief.

Evan replaces Virginia Ellis, who is retiring after leading the bureau since 2001. That, coincidentally, was the same year Evan came to work for the Times, joining us from the Philadelphia Inquirer (he previously worked for Newsweek and ABC News).

Evan started here as a reporter in Orange County, where he covered the centrally important story of growth and development. He quickly demonstrated his strength not only at explaining the complexities of policy, but also at showing readers the real-world impact of government decisions. After a year and half in Orange County, Evan moved to Sacramento, where he took part in our coverage of the recall of Gov. Gray Davis and then covered the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But the story with which Evan has become identified above all is California' seemingly endless fiscal crisis. In Sacramento, there are no journalists -- and precious few government officials -- who understand the problems of the state budget, its tax structure and its spending better than Evan.

With the state now facing an even more serious financial crisis than before, Evan's intimate knowledge of the topic will stand him in good stead as he leads the efforts of our extremely talented team of reporters in Sacramento. Please join me in congratulating Evan on a challenging new assignment.

The Times' hopelessly out-of-date online staff roster suggests the once-booming Sacramento bureau is down to three reporters under Halper: Patrick McGreevy, Jordan Rau and Michael Rothfeld. I assume that Dan Morain has also returned from the national politics desk.

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