November 18

FDA adds 104 staffers to food safety branch

first_img See also: The newly hired CFSAN personnel are filling 91 new positions and 13 existing vacancies, according to a fact sheet that the FDA provided by e-mail. The additions amount to a 10% increase in the center’s staff, according to a Sep 11 Associated Press (AP) report. The hiring surge includes 245 staffers in the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs, which fields inspectors of food and other regulated products. Of the 245 jobs, 111 are new positions, the FDA said. In announcing the hiring push in April, the FDA said it was needed to implement the FDA Amendments Act of 2007 and two agency initiatives unveiled in the fall of 2007: the Food Protection Plan and the Import Safety Plan. Staff additions at the FDA’s other branches include 133 at the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, 116 at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, 34 at the Center for Veterinary Medicine, and 22 at the National Center for Toxicological Research. In all, the FDA said it has filled 1,317 positions since it announced a major hiring initiative on Apr 30. The agency has 1,005 new employees on board, with another 158 due to begin by Sep 28. The rest of the candidates have accepted job offers but are still going through security procedures. Last December a special FDA committee reported that the agency had been badly weakened by a combination of ever-increasing responsibilities, inadequate funding, and a static work force over the past 20 years. The committee said the FDA had an obsolete information technology system and was losing its ability to keep up with scientific advances. About half of all the new employees—663—are joining the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), which evaluates new drug applications and monitors the safety of licensed drugs. In launching the hiring drive, the FDA said it had been granted direct-hire authority, which saves time by eliminating “certain rating and ranking preferences” when filling jobs for which there is a critical need. Apr 30 CIDRAP News story “Health group urges overhaul of US food safety system” Overall, there are 770 new positions and 547 “backfills,” the agency said. The FDA has a total of 10,144 employees, including 700 Commissioned Corps members. About 2,131 positions are funded by user fees this year, the agency said. Sep 12, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it has hired 104 people in its Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) in the past 5 months as part of a surge that has brought more than 1,300 new employees to the agency. “This is really just bringing them back to where they were in earlier years,” said William Hubbard, a former FDA associate commissioner who now leads a group lobbying for sustained increases in the agency’s budget. “It restores losses that they have incurred, but they still have a long way to go to where they can make improvements.” Some independent FDA observers quoted in the AP report called the new hiring push only a first step, though a sorely needed one. Arthur Levin, director of the Center for Medical Consumers in New York, said the FDA’s recruiting shows that public service is still attractive for highly specialized professionals, according to the AP. But he cautioned that the FDA has a history of letting such gains slip away, saying the agency hired more food inspectors after the attacks of Sep 11, 2001, but then gradually trimmed the program. Apr 30 FDA news release about the plan to hire 1,300 The report of the staff increase comes after a summer of food safety turmoil linked mainly to the widespread and prolonged Salmonella outbreak associated with Mexican hot peppers. The FDA and other federal agencies drew considerable criticism because they initially suspected tomatoes as the culprit, and it took several weeks to determine that peppers were involved. More than 850 of the 1,005 new staff members are in scientific and medical fields, including chemists, biologists, pharmacologists, medical officers, consumer safety officers, statisticians, general health scientists, and microbiologists, the FDA said. But no breakdown of the types of jobs included in the 104 CFSAN positions was available today. About 500 of the 1,317 new employees will be paid with funds from user fees the FDA charges firms seeking FDA approval for new drugs and devices, according to the fact sheet. “No funding will be diverted from other programs to hire new personnel,” the statement says. Dec 5, 2007, CIDRAP News story “Report says stingy funding has put FDA in crisis” read more

August 26

Hoffarth: The relationship that a booth built for Robertson, Scully

first_imgIt’s been a 28-year give-and-take relationship that Boyd Robertson and Vin Scully have going on here. It’s also a given that neither of them take it for granted.Much of it works without a word spoken. At least, on Robertson’s part.Between hand signals, index cards, spotting boards or just a knowing nod, you’ll find Robertson, as the stage manager positioned to Scully’s right and with his left ear always open on his headset as he sits in the SportsNet LA TV booth on the Dodger Stadium club level.There is no disputing he has been the play-by-play legend’s self-appointed information middleman/security blanket/work wife/gatekeeper/sidekick for every situation imaginable, before, during and after a contest since the two of them were paired up for the 1989 season opener in Cincinnati. Every home game this season, especially, reinforces that heart-felt feeling for Robertson.Because of his responsibilities in the booth as the liaison from the TV truck and Scully, Robertson has become part of the daily dance that takes place upon Scully’s arrival usually at about 3:30 p.m. for a 7:10 p.m. game. As visitors come by his booth to share a moment with Scully, both arranged ahead of time or by spur of the moment, Robertson can go into a natural protective mode.“It’s really all about keeping things the way he wants it, and adjusting to him whatever he needs,” said Robertson, who drives in from Lake Forest and often carpools with his 28-year-old daughter Darcy, an Irvine resident who works as an EVS operator on the in-house DodgerVision team.“At the same time, we all know he tries to make time for as many people as possible. It’s just a matter of knowing his schedule, review notes, knowing when we have to have him on camera for the openings, get stat packages ready, all those things that go into it.”That’s also where Rob Menschel, the camera operator to Robertson’s right who also arranges the lighting for Scully’s on-camera appearances, statistician Brian Hagen and audio specialist Dave Wolcott come in.Menschel, who occasionally produces Dodgers telecasts, has logged 25 seasons on Team Scully. While manning his camera, he’ll often flip open his laptop to track down a note that Scully may be interested in and hands it to Robertson. Hagen has been there another 10 years, feeding numbers to Robertson, who then slips them across the table for Scully’s consideration.If the 88-year-old Hall of Famer is the last Major League Baseball broadcaster to call a game without an analyst, it’s not as if he’s all by himself.“All of them mean so much to me,” Scully says. “I think if I were there all alone, I wouldn’t have half the stuff I’m able to rely on because, well, I just can’t do it.“Sometimes I’ll be talking and miss something that Boyd sees — a pitcher in the bullpen warming up, a pinch runner comes in. Sometimes, I’ll be writing a play down in the scorebook, and could miss a decision that a play will be reviewed, and Boyd will have it.“It’s a constant source to prop me up. They can anticipate me and I can rely on them. Their personalities are wonderful, they’re great to work with, they’re constantly working, we have great respect for each other and best of all, as all these years got along, we’re good pals. I love all of them.”As time goes onRobertson can now laugh as he humbly recalls the first time he met Scully on the field at Riverfront Stadium before that Dodgers-Reds game, when Scully used to do pregame interviews in the dugout.With a suit and tie on, Robertson addressed him as “Mr. Scully” out of respect and then told him his name. The immediate response after the handshake was: “If we’re going to work together, it’s Vin.”“Right away, I knew that I’d better be pretty good at this or I won’t be here long,” said Robertson, who found out almost immediately that wasn’t going to be true. During that same Dodgers-Reds series, Robertson realized that he gave a note to Scully that was used on the air and was incorrect.“I signal for him to take off the headset after he threw it to a commercial, and I said: ‘You know that information I gave you on the air? It’s wrong. I made the mistake and it’s my fault.’“I thought that would be it for me. But Vin took this pause, and looked at me and finally said, ‘Well, welcome to the club.’“That, to me, was a confidence thing that he wanted me to succeed. Out of that failure, I succeeded, I think. It’s come to a point where I wake up every morning and can’t believe I still get to do this. I take none of it for granted.”Work ethic rubs offIf he can admit it took some years to finally get comfortable as the stage manager for Scully, Robertson says now that as far as the booth crew goes, “we all develop a rhythm off him, supporting him, and all feeding off each other.” Like passing notes in class without distracting from a teacher’s lesson, Robertson has the system down.As to whether Robertson has ever seen Scully have a so-called “bad day,” he honestly says: “I’m not sure what a bad day is with him. He’s always done his homework. Always professional and with energy. Maybe it comes from what he said he heard once from an old-time writer in New York: Only losers beef. And that rubs off on everyone. You don’t complain around him – after all, what can you complain about?”Maybe that, after all these years, things are about to change dramatically. Robertson can’t even be sure he’ll be around after this season depending on the needs of new play-by-play man Joe Davis.“We know it’s very different this year, and it’s supposed to be,” said Robertson. “We wish it could go on, but I remember all the times when we’d leave one channel at the end of the season, knowing we’d join another one, and Vin would always say, ‘Nothing lasts forever.’ “Well, this really is his year to say goodbye.”And on that note …MEASURING MEDIA MOMENTUMWHAT SMOKES• Whereas California governor Jerry Brown was in Europe on vacation, and whereas Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was in Montana on vacation, and whereas Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon could basically do whatever he wanted as the acting boss until Monday aside from changing back the minimum wage, it was declared “Vin Scully Day” in the state on Friday, all because de Leon, whose state Senate district includes Dodger Stadium, had that power. Would it have been cooler if Brown himself had signed off on it, perhaps saving it for the Dodgers-Giants regular-season finale on Oct. 2 in San Francisco? That’s for another day.WHAT CHOKES• Vin Scully declared months ago he had no desire to inject himself into Fox’s coverage for the 87th MLB All-Star Game in San Diego on Tuesday. But there is no logical reason why Dick Enberg, another Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster who will also be finishing his career after the last seven years with the Padres on the Fox Sports San Diego cable channel, wasn’t requested to join Joe Buck and John Smoltz on at least an inning or two for the exhibition. Instead, Fox has asked him to … well, we’ll let Enberg tell it. “I’ve done several All-Star historical pieces in limerick style, not written by me, that are playing around the game, pre and post, on the network. I also did pen an essay, my love letter to baseball, that is playing this weekend on our FSSD games (Padres vs. Dodgers, blacked out in L.A.) that I think is really good and has been offered to the network.” Is just this small part of Enberg better than nothing? Hmmm. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img No matter how many times a Dodgers’ local broadcast has changed hands and new rights holders have considered changing things up — from KTTV Channel 11 in the late ’80s when Robertson first came on to KTLA Channel 5, from the original Prime Ticket to the recent SportsNet LA — Scully’s request is that Robertson be part of the package deal.Wish granted. To think that at 63 years old, and already mapping out some retirement plans having also logged a dozen years as a stage manager for the Lakers’ Chick Hearn and more of them on major events at ABC for Jim McKay, Keith Jackson and the “Monday Night Football” crew of Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford and Don Meredith, Robertson wasn’t even alive when Scully started his broadcasting career with the franchise.“This is the pinnacle of my professional life,” said Robertson, a varsity golfer at Southeastern Oklahoma State who came West in the early 1980s, moving to Burbank to get further into the TV business. “I’ve always been down on the food chain. I like to be part of a team. That’s where I belong. But with Vin, it’s the best.”Managing Scully’s timelast_img read more