Senseless: A Tragic Morning in Virginia

I was running on the elliptical at my gym this morning when the breaking news came across CNN about the tragic and truly senseless shooting of two journalists in Virginia on live television while they worked a routine news story. Alison Parker and Adam Ward were both in the prime of their lives and their careers. They were brutally shot to death by a former employee of the same TV network who had some sort of vendetta against both of these former colleagues.


The shooter eventually took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound and died in the hospital around 1:30 this afternoon. I still cannot believe that such a senseless crime happened today in a small, rural area outside of Roanoke. I will never understand what drives someone to commit such a horrible act of aggression against another human being.


I was in shock as I watched the interview at the gym with the General Manager of the television station who was explaining that the cameraman, Adam Ward, was engaged and that his fiancée is one of the producers of the morning show, so she watched these horrific events transpire live in their newsroom.


It was at that point that I had a feeling that this crime was perpetrated by someone with intimate knowledge of their station because no other motive really made sense. The reporter, Alison Parker, was in a serious committed relationship with another fellow employee who was a news anchor, they have been together for three years. Therefore, a jealous ex-boyfriend did not fit in this situation. The nature of the crime suggested it was someone who knew them both, I was saddened to learn later that my suspicions were correct.


In another unfortunate sign of the times we live in, as I was running, CNN posted another news alert that New York City and their Counterterrorism Unit had bolstered security at all New York news stations. That made sense to me especially until they determined the motive behind this attack, if it was terrorism related then New York always has to be extremely cautious with that.


However, it is on these days that I even more fully realize how blessed I am to be alive. I become even more grateful for all that I have been afforded in my life because it is a reminder that at any point it can be taken away.


The shooter mentioned the tragedies in Charleston, South Carolina and at Virginia Tech in a manifesto he sent to ABC News. He mentioned being angry but wanting to die in peace. These tragedies he mentioned and including the one in which he caused by his actions today have become unfortunately commonplace in our country.


The recent movie theater shootings and the announcement late last week by Regal Cinemas that they would begin a policy of checking bags and searching people for weapons have highlighted the unfortunate need for more security against gun related crime.


Furthermore, the series of school related violent tragedies punctuated by Columbine (which the Virginia shooter also mentioned in the document sent to ABC News) and the Sandy Hook tragedy are some of the most profoundly disturbing events we have experienced in our nation. This violence, this disrespect for life has to stop.


I covered a variety of aspects of the Sandy Hook school tragedy in my own work for a few different organizations. I have covered other events where I have had to interview someone or multiple people such as what Ms. Parker was doing today in a story on tourism when this horrific event transpired. I have never feared for my own safety while working a news story or an event or a fundraiser where I was representing a media outlet or submitting the story to a variety of outlets. We live in a nation where that should not be acceptable under any circumstances. These young people were just doing their jobs, something has to change, something has to be done to deal with gun related violence in America.


I am not sure what the solution is, and quite frankly, I do not have a solution. I just feel very strongly that human life is sacred, that all life should be protected, and that innocent people should not die at school or at work or in a public place in a civilized society. This crime today, and other attacks like it, are completely senseless and they simply must be eliminated from our national way of life. We should not, and honestly, cannot allow these sorts of tragic crimes where innocent lives are taken to continue.


The main issue here in this case, and with many others like it, remains that the root cause is not addressed. In many cases those who carry out these horrific acts have problems or issues that are not being addressed. An improvement in the availability of mental or psychological counseling and intervention would resolve these situations before these people are pushed to the breaking point and taking the lives of others. Something has to be done to change how we as a society deal with these issues.


My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims today, to the family of the man who caused this tragedy, and to all those who knew those who died this morning in Virginia. My prayers continue that one day we will find peaceful solutions to our societal problems and that our culture will embrace the concept that all human life is valuable and should be respected. My prayers continue that other Americans agree with my sentiments and that tangible progress can be made to end this senseless violence in our country on a permanent basis.

Poetry by Frank J. Maduri: “Drought Conditions”

I wrote this poem over a year ago while working on a news story on the California drought. In searching through my older poetry for something else I thought I would share it and it, sadly, is still very relevant today. The West is still in a drought and society is still grappling with these same issues.


“Drought Conditions”


I’m working a news story about California

They and the West are without water

Another ominous sign of climate change

The drought is so severe, the stats staggering

The West has lost 63 trillion gallons –

In a 3 year period and whole cities

Are restricting water and fining violators

But Nestle is still allowed to bottle water –

From California springs and sell it for profit

Across state lines, while others have no water

Nevada has no water and no full time jobs

A drought of two critically necessary commodities

People are stuck literally without water or money

Arizona & New Mexico have no water either

And have immigrants flooding their borders

The notion we should reject these suffering –

Often ill and poor souls shows a drought of another kind:

It’s a drought of our societal morality


They want to end the words “under God”

From our time honored Pledge of Allegiance

A drought on our national root values

Companies are moving out of America

To avoid paying their corporate taxes

A drought of their patriotic responsibility

The news media wants to drive fear

Fear of everyone and everything different –

Than you are. A drought of hope


Society shifting into secularism

Promoting individualism and relativism

A drought on our consciousness

A drought on our communal harmony

A society of “me” and not “we”

What about “We the people”?

There’s no mention of “I” by the Founders

A drought of our civilization

Aimed at keeping us focused away-

Away from the real problems


A drought in Africa causing famine

Children dying in fields by the dozen

I.S.I.S. roaming and prowling

Killing innocent people indiscriminately

A drought of any basic human dignity

A drought of any respect for human life

These problems, all of them could be addressed

If we all banded together in harmony

If we ignored society and turned to God

For He is the Living Water

That will heal this parched Earth



Copyright – 2015 – Frank J. Maduri – All rights reserved. No copying, duplication, reproduction, or use of this content is permitted without the express written permission of the author.



NFL To Los Angeles Update: More Twists & Turns

The ongoing quest of the NFL relocation process to Los Angeles took a few more twists and turns recently following a set of meetings between the league, the owners, and the parties from three NFL teams interested in gaining a foothold into the nation’s second largest media market.


Those meetings took place in the Chicago area and presentations were made by the Chargers, the Raiders, and the Rams regarding potential relocation to Los Angeles and their respective stadium proposals. I have reported on this topic for a few years now and I can attest that the situation is an evolving one, to put it diplomatically.


In order to provide some backdrop for readers who are not aware of the relocation scenario with the NFL and Los Angeles it essentially boils down to back room politics within one of the most profitable sports leagues in the world. The Rams, who initially played in L.A. and moved to St. Louis for a sweetheart deal on a new stadium in the mid-1990s, are now positioning themselves for a move back to Southern California. Their owner, Stan Kroenke, has made a huge land purchase in Inglewood on the site of the former Hollywood Park horseracing track (see my earlier article which focuses exclusively on this deal) with the aim to build a world class football stadium on the site.


The Chargers and Raiders moved quickly following Kroenke’s land move to secure land for a joint stadium project in Carson, California which has been fast tracked through the government permit and environmental review stages to be a more “shovel ready” project at this point than the Rams proposal. The Chargers have worked with San Diego (though some in San Diego municipal government claim the Chargers never worked in good faith) on a new stadium for 15 years with no progress being made in that time period.

The Raiders have worked with Oakland for a similar time frame (if not longer) to find an acceptable proposal to replace the aging Coliseum but with no success. The Raiders have positioned themselves well in the “race to L.A.” because they do not want their own stadium, they prefer to be a partner or a tenant in whatever stadium bid gets accepted by the NFL.


The NFL would prefer to have two teams in the market and not three, so somebody is going to be left out of this equation, and it is looking more likely that it is not going to be the Raiders. In the mainstream media press conference after the Chicago meetings regarding the L.A. relocation, an NFL Vice President was quoted as stating that the Raiders have no viable way of staying in Oakland.


Horse Race


The horse race to L.A. was viewed prior to the meetings in Chicago by NFL insiders as scenario where the Chargers/Raiders proposal in Carson being the lead proposal for acceptance by the league ownership. The rationale being that both teams are based in California and have worked diligently to remain in their current markets with no progress seen in that regard.


The view prior to the meetings was that Kroenke’s move with the Hollywood Park land purchase was too bold and aggressive. It also should be noted that St. Louis has put together a viable option for a new stadium on the waterfront for the Rams to remain in Missouri that has intrigued NFL owners and league executives.


However, according to sources in the mainstream sports media, after the meetings in Chicago it appears that the Rams proposal for the stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood has gained significant traction. There is also some movement by San Diego to put together a proposal for a new facility to keep the team from relocating.

It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out between now and the expected official decision on which teams will be in L.A. which is expected in January 2016. The Giants owner, John Mara, stated to the media that he expects a team to be playing in L.A. by 2016 in a temporary venue.


Alternate Plans


Once the two teams that are approved by the NFL to relocate to Los Angeles are announced, the issue becomes finding a temporary home for the teams while the construction of their long term home is being undertaken. The Rose Bowl has, according to mainstream reports, told the NFL that they are not interested in temporarily hosting a NFL franchise. The LA Coliseum apparently is willing to serve as a temporary venue for a relocated franchise to the city.


Then, on Monday, in a strange turn of events, San Antonio has stepped up and announced that they would be willing to host the Raiders temporarily if they get relocated to LA because their lease with Oakland ends at the end of this season. The Carson stadium will not be ready for another two years and the Inglewood stadium could take three years to construct.


My first thoughts when I saw this news earlier was that it was strange, but the more I thought about it, it represents a really smart move by San Antonio. The Raiders owner, Mark Davis, has already visited San Antonio and met with officials there as a potential relocation site for the franchise (see my earlier article on the Oakland stadium) though that turned out to be a maneuver to gain leverage so that Oakland would approve funds for a new facility for the team.


The scenario in Oakland between the municipal government, county leadership, and the Raiders executives has gone downhill rapidly from bad to worse. The Coliseum is known throughout the league as the worst facility and the appetite in Oakland for spending public funds for a stadium is tepid at best. The NFL beat writer for the Raiders reported to CBS Sports that Mark Davis went to the Oakland officials with a reduced stadium plan purposing an intimate venue with 50,000 seats versus some other NFL stadiums which have close to 70,000 capacity. The smaller facility would have a reduced price tag and environmental impact, the two sides could not come to agreement on that proposal.


The Raiders may need a temporary home for a few years until the move to L.A. and it may need to be outside of Oakland with the state of the relationship between both parties. In the hypothetical scenario that the Rams and Raiders are both awarded L.A. relocations by the league, the Rams would most likely play at the LA Coliseum on a temporary basis. It may be difficult to schedule two teams to play at that facility, so that is where San Antonio is making their sales pitch at this point.


When you think about it, it makes sense for both sides. The Raiders could gain exposure to a whole new demographic of fans and due to their success earlier in their franchise history they already have a national following, they could add to that fan base by playing in Texas. The NFL let a study gain media attention a couple of weeks ago where there was a survey done of Raiders fans, and the majority said that they would support the team regardless of where they based their operation. It was an obvious placement by the NFL to soften the ground for the LA relocation of the franchise, but it could also play a role for San Antonio to appeal to both the Raiders and the league that they can be a viable temporary home.


It makes sense for San Antonio because they would gain tax revenues from the team operations, game days, and an increase in tourism/ hotel stays from the team playing there temporarily for two to three years. The Alamodome would be the site for the games and that facility is undergoing an over $40 million dollar renovation including wider concourses, a new scoreboard, larger locker rooms, and other amenities in preparation for the stadium to host the NCAA basketball Final Four in 2018. The Raiders would be able to play games indoors in an upgraded facility that is far nicer than Oakland Coliseum at this point. The local fans in San Antonio would get NFL football for two to three years right in their city, and the city would be able to show the NFL that they can handle an expansion or other relocated team on a permanent basis down the line.


Switching Places


On Monday night a report emerged regarding the Chargers – Raiders joint project in Carson. The NFL has reported that if that stadium initiative is accepted by the league, then the teams will no longer remain in the same division, the AFC West in this case, or the same conference. The NFL would realign the teams so that one would most likely join the NFC West.


In that scenario, in order to keep the conferences and the divisions evenly balanced in the four divisions with four teams in each conference, another team would have to change conferences as well. Carmen Policy, who is heading up the NFL to LA movement at this point and was heavily involved in the presentations in Chicago related in this report that several intriguing realignment options are on the table at this point.


I had thought about this scenario while writing an earlier article on this topic. In many ways, approving the Inglewood project is a much more streamlined process for the NFL because the Rams would relocate to Southern California and remain in the NFC West, and the Raiders would most likely be their co-tenant and remain in the AFC West with no realignment of the league being necessary.


However, that still leaves the Chargers in a potentially untenable situation in San Diego, which the NFL certainly internally knows much more about just how dire that situation is, certainly more than I do. That may be the impetus behind the drive for the Carson project, to resolve the Chargers stadium issue  as well as the Raiders issues all in one bold sweeping move.


I know that Jason LaComfora of CBS Sports first reported this several months ago, and it is an intriguing idea. He thinks that if the Rams move to LA and the Inglewood project goes ahead and the Rams leave St. Louis, then the team that is left out of the LA market could wind up moving to St. Louis and playing in the new proposed riverfront stadium. In light of recent events, with the NFL open to realignment, all options could be on the table. The Chargers could wind up moving to St. Louis and staying in the AFC West where they would have a regional rival in their division in the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers would also still play the Raiders and Broncos in that scenario twice per season as they currently do.


In my view, that would be the biggest issue with the Carson project is having to shift multiple teams and realign the league. That would eliminate the rivalry games that NFL fans look forward to from back in the old AFL days, fierce rivalries between the Broncos and Chargers or the Raiders and Chiefs.


The other point that I have to mention here is that the NFL does not want 3 teams playing in the Los Angeles market, and if they decide to keep the Rams out (it seems Kroenke is set to go there) how will the league prevent a billionaire from moving the operation of his team from St. Louis to the nation’s second largest media market and the entertainment capital of the world?


The issue is further complicated when consideration is given to the fact that the Rams once played in Los Angeles and they have a passionate following and supporters there that want the team to return to Southern California.


In that scenario, what happens to St. Louis and their plans for a new riverfront stadium? Some within NFL circles question whether St. Louis deserves another shot at a team because they lost the Cardinals previously, so if the city loses the Rams as well, are they the right market for an NFL team?


This situation certainly is a delicate one for the NFL and for three franchises who are vying to gain entry into a coveted and largely untapped marketplace. It will be interesting to see how the NFL, the owners, and the executives from the three teams involved handle the next steps in what has become a race to get NFL football back to Los Angeles.


(Some background information courtesy of CBS


The Transfiguration

I was reflecting today on this warm Thursday afternoon about a number of writing assignments in my queue, some on short turn-around times, and I was wondering how I was going to get it all done between now and Monday of next week. In those times of great stress and feelings of being overwhelmed I did today what I usually do: I stopped to pray.


In my prayer break I began to contemplate the fact that today is the Feast of the Transfiguration in the Roman Catholic Liturgical calendar. My thoughts shifted then to that event that is captured so poignantly in the Gospels, in the New Testament contributions of Saint Peter, and as one of the Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.


In this miracle in the New Testament, for those who are unfamiliar, Jesus takes three of his disciples: Peter, James, and John up to the top of a mountain to pray. While they were there Jesus is transformed before them and his clothes turn dazzling white and his appearance is transfigured or metamorphosed before them. A voice from the heavens proclaims that this is “My Son” and that we should “listen to Him”.


This is a powerful event and a poignant image to ponder. In the Gospel of Luke and his account of this event, Jesus is speaking to the disciples about exodus, which he will achieve in a few short days because they had stopped at this mountain shortly after the Lazarus miracle and shortly before they were going to arrive on Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.


A priest once told me when I asked about the importance of the Transfiguration that it is a symbol of hope. Jesus was providing the disciples, and by extension, all of us with a sign that even though He was going to suffer and die a horrible death on Good Friday He would overcome it all. Jesus was displaying that He would be with them and with all of us forever. That is a hopeful message indeed!


At the same time during the course of my own day today, I learned that I was accepted as a contributing writer to a financial news website. I was very happy about this development and when I went to check the headlines in the financial news I saw the summary of the report on job layoffs at a four year high.


This made me think about all those people who were just laid off and those who might know that they will be laid off imminently (this afternoon McDonald’s announced a couple of hundred job layoffs). The retail as well as the financial sector looked to be some of the most heavily impacted segments in the report and those two areas are a very big part of the economy here in my home state of New Jersey. I said a prayer for all of those people and asked that they be comforted in this time of despair.


I know the pain of job loss and the desperation it can cause in the human psyche, I also know the impact it can have on families, and that financial burdens are a problem for most people (the whole 90% movement comes to mind) and I know others who are disabled and cannot work right now. In all of those situations we all need a reminder, myself included, that we can get worried about all the stuff of the world but as Jesus taught us to be not afraid because He overcame the world.


The Transfiguration of Our Lord reminds us of that as Jesus displayed His glory in a powerful display on the top of a mountain. He showed to us all that He is the Way to Eternal Life. Furthermore, this account links to another miracle involving Jesus (which I have written an article about for The Baptism of Jesus where Our Savior rises from the waters of the Jordan River and a voice from above proclaims “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased”. In both of these accounts a voice from above can be heard and reaffirms Jesus as the Son of God. This is very powerful and hope-filled messaging which we can take solace within when the pressures of society leave us feeling unfairly burdened.


The Transfiguration is a reminder that when all else fails, we can turn to Jesus and ask for help because He has overcome all of the mental, physical, and emotional anguish of the human condition. His transformation on the top of that mountain serves as demonstration that Jesus unites Earth and Heaven and His sacrifice on Calvary paid our sin debt so that we can be free.


So when the news is too hard to watch, the bills are piling up, the car needs a costly repair, or you do not know when the next pay check is coming in – turn to Our Lord – remember His message of hope in the Gospel. It is in those times where He longs for us to turn to Him and say: “Jesus I Trust In You”.


May the Lord Jesus bless all of you and your families.


(Frank J. Maduri is a freelance writer and journalist with publishing credits for numerous websites, local newspapers, and large news organizations. His commentary writing on Catholic doctrine is well regarded and resulted in thousands of link shares on social media. He attributes all of his success to his strong Catholic faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.)


The Desert Drama: The Battle Between The Arizona Coyotes and Glendale

The Arizona Coyotes hockey franchise and the City of Glendale agreed recently to a new 2 year arena maintenance deal following another round of acrimony in what has been a saga surrounding the team and the city for years. The City of Glendale voted recently to terminate the team’s lease on the Gila River Arena in order to renegotiate the terms of the agreement with the team.


I have covered this debacle for a few years now, and if you strip away all of the other minutia to the situation it comes down to money, like any other negotiation. Under the terms of the new agreement, the amount that Glendale will pay to the Coyotes is trimmed from $15 million per year to $6.5 million annually. The team gains $6 million in revenue from parking, ticket sales, and naming rights that originally had gone to Glendale in the prior deal. The team is staying put for now, but the length of the new lease is shorter and raises speculation about the future of the team. Both sides are saying they are committed to making hockey work in Glendale.


However, it does raise the distinct possibility that the franchise could be relocated to another city in the near future. The new agreement provides the Coyotes ownership with an out-clause in June 2017, which is a full year earlier than the mechanism that would have triggered that clause in the original lease.


The NHL recently opened the process for expansion and groups from Las Vegas and Quebec City submitted formal bids. The now infamous exclusion of the expected Seattle bid from the process made headlines. The NHL has strong interest in the Seattle market and it would help balance the league which has two less franchises in the Western Conference. The main issue though is a lack of an arena suitable to host an NHL team for 41 games a season.

The three groups potentially interested in bringing hockey to Seattle have different plans for getting an arena built in that marketplace. Since none of the proposals were progressed far enough it is the reason given for their absence from the expansion process this past week.


I could see a scenario where the Coyotes are potentially relocated in a couple of years to the Seattle market once they have the financing and approval as well as begin construction on a new arena.


Valley of the Sun


In recent weeks, another potential option has emerged which could resolve this issue between the current ownership group of the team and the City of Glendale while allowing the team to remain in Arizona.


That resolution revolves around a proposal which was introduced recently in the state legislature regarding the construction of a new arena in downtown Phoenix. The proposal originally was targeting the use of the arena as an upgraded facility for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, but now some politicians have floated the idea of including the Coyotes as a co-anchor tenant for the new arena.


In the event that this proposal is acceptable to all sides involved and the respective league officials involved this could be a win-win situation for the Valley of the Sun. The State of Arizona would keep both their NBA and NHL franchises, the teams would get a new building to call home, the fans would keep their teams, and the leagues -in particular the NHL- would not lose a top TV market.


Phoenix also could solve the attendance problems which have plagued the Coyotes because any area resident will tell you that rush hour traffic issues getting to Glendale coupled with the fact that the area around the arena in Glendale never properly developed, are two main reasons behind the difficulties with drawing fans to NHL games in that market.


The downtown arena in Phoenix would solve the issue because it would be far more accessible to fans travelling in from the suburbs or coming from work, especially for weeknight games. The NHL would probably support this move because they have been dogged in their determination to keep the Coyotes in the Phoenix market for years.


Alternate Plans


The situation surrounding the Coyotes future in Arizona gets far more uncertain if the public funding for a new downtown arena in Phoenix fails to gain passage in the state legislature. The current arena in Phoenix which houses the Suns is not a viable option for hockey because it requires an odd configuration to fit the ice sheet which causes many seats to have obstructed views, it is the reason why the Coyotes moved out to Glendale in the first place.


The alternative plan some have suggested of relocating the Coyotes to Las Vegas in two years certainly makes some degree of sense especially given the geography of the move. The team could stay in the same division and play within driving distance of their former home territory which could translate into a crossover fan base.


Conversely, the NHL would not be too keen on this idea because they would stand to gain a lot less revenue from this maneuver. The difference between a current team relocating and the addition of an expansion team is that the NHL can charge a new expansion team with an entrance fee. The entrance fee if the NHL expands into Las Vegas with a new franchise is said to be around $500 million which would then be split between the league and the owners.


A relocation of the Coyotes to Las Vegas would translate into a forfeiture of the entrance fee, and therefore, would probably not receive league approval. The same could be said for a relocation to Quebec City, which the NHL plans to ask for a potentially larger expansion fee based on the popularity of the sport in Canada.


I know someone who recently mentioned to me that the relocation of the Coyotes could be to a second team in the Toronto market. The issue with that move though is the outlandish fee that the NHL will make that team pay to the Maple Leafs to be able to share the market with them. That has been cost prohibitive to other efforts to add a second team to hockey’s largest market in the past. That scenario could work if they were to share the arena because the owners would save on that cost, but I think the NHL would prefer to have a team expand into that market for the same reasons I outlined earlier: the expansion fee would be much larger than a relocation of an existing team.


Therefore, if the Phoenix plan falters, the remaining move on the board, at least at this point is for the Coyotes to move their operation to the Seattle market. I think it will take two to three years for the Coyotes to make a determination on whether a move to downtown Phoenix is enough to save hockey in the desert. In that same vein, it will take Seattle two or three years to get their arena situation squared away.


The more information that comes out about the Seattle groups and the arena plans they have, it seems more improbable that it will get done unless something changes along the way. The Tukwila proposal would cost $500 million total financed privately by the business community and the potential ownership group. The Coleman group bid is connected to the downtown arena proposed to be built for an NBA team that may not ever happen (see my article on the new Bucks arena which was the best chance for Seattle to get a relocated NBA team and now is vanquished) because any change to make the arena project for a hockey team would require a change in the MOU between the city and the investors who own the land which is not happening.


The third ownership group has a plan for an arena in Bellevue but the issue is quite simple, they do not own the land to build it. The land in that suburb is not readily available and is not cheap. It could take four or five years to get the project done. The NHL is said through sources to prefer the downtown arena option over the suburban plans, but they all have issues on one level or another.


In the end analysis, as I wrote in the beginning this is all about money. The future of the Coyotes franchise will be wherever they can maximize revenues, if that is in Arizona they will stay. The more likely scenario is that in a few years this team and hockey in the American desert will be gone, and I feel terribly for their fans, it will be reduced to nothing but memories.