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Patrick Range McDonald to depart LA Weekly

Patrick Range McDonald, the LA Weekly staff writer who recently co-authored a book with former mayor Richard Riordan, is leaving to write another book. Per the memo from his editor, Jill Stewart, the new book is "the history of a globally known AIDS organization." Here's her email to the staff:

From: Jill Stewart
Date: September 5, 2013, 4:42:25 PM PDT
Subject: Patrick Range McDonald is moving on

Our wonderful reporter Patrick Range McDonald, named Best Print Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and winner of many other major awards, is leaving us on September 20 to write a book about the history of a globally known AIDS organization.

Sarah and I are going to miss Patrick's integrity, wit and courage as well as his considerable writing and reporting talent. I, in particular, will miss his friendship and guidance on so many levels. When I emailed Patrick some years ago in Manhattan and said I needed a good news freelancer who understood LA, he jumped at the chance, moving back to LA within the month. The next year, we had an opening and hired him as a full-time staff writer. Since then Patrick has tackled many of the biggest issues of the day for LA Weekly, facing down powerful people to cover politics, the environment, education, development, governance and his special area of interest, gay rights.

I asked Patrick, when he gave me his notice, what anecdotes came to mind about his considerable time here as a staff writer. Here are some excerpts from his response to me:

-- "LAPD chief Bill Bratton, the super cop of the world, went on Patt Morrison's radio show after we came out with a feature that took him to task for saying that LA is as safe as 1956. The piece picked apart his use of crime statistics, which is something few, if any, news outlets have ever done. Bratton gets on the radio and Patt asks him about our article. Bratton, with his cocky Boston accent, quickly dismisses our piece by saying the author was probably smoking weed when he wrote it. He said that in his typical biting, somewhat mocking way.. But when he goes after people like that, he's been rattled. Bratton's blustery remark was one of my proudest moments at the Weekly."

-- "For a few months, I looked under my car ever morning for any bombs after we came out with the Monkey Madness story about violent animal rights activists at UCLA. The article got lots of notice, with Drudge picking it up."

-- "Taking a subway ride with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is something I'll never forget. He was greeted by a teenager who didn't know he was the mayor, and he got a weird, somewhat perturbed look on his face. Then a passenger asked the mayor if he could lower the monthly pass rate. You could see the wheels turning in Villaraigosa's head, trying to remember the price of pass. The guy looked stunned that the mayor, who's an MTA board member, didn't have a clue. As Villaraigosa moved on, I asked the passengers what they thought about the mayor. Villaraigosa apparently heard me, walked up to me, stared at my press badge, grabbed it, and gave it a good, long read. No words said. It was one of the most bizarre encounters I've had with a politician."

--"In 2011, Measure L was victorious (to reopen 73 Los Angeles public libraries that had been closed two days weekly, unprecedented in city history and extremely rare nationwide). That night was possibly one of my most life-affirming nights as a journalist. Without my coverage in the Weekly, public library officials have said, reopening the libraries probably would not have happened. So we made real change."

--"I just loved going into tough neighborhoods and talking with people about what was happening there. From Compton to South LA to the Eastside to downtown. I just loved finding out what was really happening from the people who lived there, and they always responded very well to me. I never had any close calls in terms of my safety."

Everyone please congratulate Patrick as he embarks on his new career as a non-fiction author. He has already co-authored one book, during a temporary book leave, with former Mayor Richard Riordan.

Details of a PRM goodbye party to come.


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