The Pacific Coast Business Times has won a first-place news reporting award in the Southern California Journalism Awards contest for a story about retired Ventura County Sheriff Bob Brooks suing the county for a supplemental pension benefit.
The contest is hosted by the Los Angeles Press Club and includes publications of all sizes throughout Southern California. The award category included all Southern California print publications with 50,000 subscribers or fewer. The honors were handed out at the Press Club’s annual awards banquet on June 29 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.
The story, published in October 2013, was reported by Tony Biasotti, former Business Times executive editor and now a regular freelance writer for the publication.
Brooks’ $283,000 annual pension is among the largest of any retired government employee in California. The former sheriff sued the county for a supplemental benefit that would pay him an additional $75,000 a year, Biasotti’s reporting found. [Click here to read the story.]
The judges recognized that the story helped start a public debate over pensions that resulted in a ballot measure that would replace Ventura County’s defined-benefit system with a 401(k)-style system. The measure, which has received enough signatures to be placed on the November ballot, is being closely watched around the country. Biasotti “saw his hard-hitting news story spark a movement for pension reform,” judges noted in their comments.
In 2011, the Business Times was recognized in the L.A. Press Club contest for reporting on the $500 million recapitalization of Pacific Capital Bancorp as well as a story on foreclosure practices at Countrywide Financial Corp. and its successor, Bank of America Home Loans.
The Pacific Coast Business Times has also received multiple Best in Business reporting awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers as well as a national Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists. The Business Times is the weekly business journal for Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Locally owned and headquartered in downtown Santa Barbara, it has been publishing since March 17, 2000.