Carefully review the information below and write a news story
between 720 and 800 words. Do not replicate the language
used in the document except for direct quotes, properly attributed.
Submit as a Word document.
You are a reporter for the Stockton Record. Early today, you
received a phone call from Dan Wilbur, public health director for
San Joaquin County. Stockton is in San Joaquin County.
He asked you to meet him at his office because he has exclusive
news for you. Once in his office, Wilbur, who was appointed to
his post two months ago, told you that the department of public
health is going to close 16 Stockton restaurants tomorrow
because inspectors have determined they pose health hazards.
They will remain closed until all health code violations have been
remedied and owners sign an agreement vowing to respect
The restaurants have repeatedly violated health code violations
for many months and, in some cases, for a few years. He allowed
you to look over health reports for the restaurants to be closed.
They reveal a pattern of restaurants described as failing to
maintain sanitary kitchens.
Specific violations include cockroach and rat infestations, mouse
feces, food stored at insufficiently low temperatures, filthy kitchen
utensils, and some food that required refrigeration left outside of
refrigerators. All of the reports describe generally kitchens so
dirty as to pose a health hazard.
Inspectors observed kitchen staff use restrooms and fail to wash
their hands. They then handled food without the use of gloves.
Most of the restaurants are high-priced establishments with
You and Wilbur agreed that you will write a story for publication
today on the newspaper’s website. He asked that you not use his
name as the source of the information. Not for publication, Wilbur
told you that tomorrow he will hold a press conference
announcing the closures.
How was it possible that these restaurants were not closed long
ago? you asked Wilbur. He replied that the former public health
director, Dr. James Langford, opposed closing restaurants
because he was good friends with many restaurant owners. The
former director also said that Stockton has a weak economy and
so being strict with the restaurants would cause even more
Wilbur also noted that the county does not have an ordinance
requiring closure. It leaves that decision up to the director.
According to Wilbur, most California counties have ordinances
that require mandatory closure when a restaurant is cited once
and upon the next inspection has not corrected the problems
Wilbur told you that all of the restaurant owners have been
notified of the impending closures. Your interview is over.
Next, you called some of the owners whose businesses will be
“This new guy, Wilbur, is crazy,” said Jack Franklin, owner of the
restaurant Jack’s Place. He argued that his restaurant is “clean
as a whistle.” Franklin alleged that inspectors did not report
The owner of Garcia’s Fine Mexican Food, Tomas Castro, said he
had not been notified and is shocked that his restaurant will be
closed. “All of the inspectors compliment me on how clean I keep
the kitchen. Some have had some suggestions like maybe I
ought to fumigate more often. But those were just suggestions,
not orders,” said Garcia. “I am going to call this Wilbur guy and
get everything straightened out.”
Frank Tong, the owner of Tong’s Palace, admitted that he has not
always kept his kitchen clean. “You see, we are one of the
busiest restaurants in Stockton,” he said. “When we are serving
lunch or dinner, my place is full of customers. How can we stop
cooking to clean up? This closure is an example of bad
government. I left China to get away from dictatorship, but now
here I have it again.”
Marjorie Miller, the owner of Cindy’s Café, a popular breakfast
restaurant, said she had an argument with Wilbur about the
coming closure. “I told him his so-called reports were a pack of
lies. I even invited to come right on over and have a look at our
kitchen. Of course, he declined,” said Miller. “We have been in
business for more than 30 years. Closure for operating a filthy
restaurant is going to badly damage my business. But I have
already hired a lawyer to sue the country.” She gave you the
name and number of her attorney. You call Samuel Bush, her
“The minute the county shuts Ms. Miller’s business I will file suit
arguing that they have overstepped their authority,” said Bush.
“There is no law or ordinance requiring closure. The closure is
also unreasonable. Ms. Miller was given a notice of 24 hours.
That’s not acting in good faith.”
Fred Tomlin owns and operates a bar called the Shamrock Bar
and Grill. It serves liquor and appetizers. “I can see why Trump
hates the media,” he said. “Here we go again with fake news.
Use some common sense. If I ran an unsanitary place, my
customers would get sick. No one has ever gotten sick here
unless they drank too much.”
Finally, you interview the former director, Dr. James Langford.
“This is nothing more than the new guy wanting to show off,” he
said. “So, he’s pretending we have major health hazards when
You ask him about the reports showing repeated violations. “Oh
those are meant as friendly warnings,” he said. “San Joaquin
County does not want to be the adversary of local businesses.
What citizens don’t understand is that commercial kitchens cannot
adhere to the same sanitary conditions as is common in
household kitchens. So, with al the food moving through a
restaurant kitchen, you are going to attract roaches and rodents.
But that’s a problem you take care of with exterminators.”
Langford added this: “Now we’re going to have hysteria over a
health crisis. I was the director for 30 years and we had no more
than 15 cases of food poisoning caused by restaurant food. In
fact, we had a lot more instances of folks getting sick from eating
food served at family picnics and festivals. As I said, this is all
about making a fuss based on nothing.”
You ask doesn’t the presence of unsanitary conditions mean
there is a health crisis?
“Of course not,” he replied. “You don’t have a crisis until people
start getting sick. And so far we have not had an outbreak of
sickness, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
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