Reporter and Photographer Thrown out of Palisades Rec Center

This editor tried to find out why her photographer and writer were tossed out of a public event. As she was leaving, the first truck pulled up with the Easter bunny.


The annual Easter Egg Hunt was held on March 28 at the Palisades Rec Center. A great time was had by all, with bouncy houses, candy, and other fun activities. At least, I would assume they did.

But why do I assume? Because Circling the News was kicked off the premises for as-of-yet unknown reasons. Kicked off the premises of a public park, no less.

Let’s start from the beginning. This journalist arrived at the Palisades Rec Center at 10:30 a.m. sharp. A little early, considering the event started at 11a.m., but I assumed that was fine. I would go and ask my questions now, before the event started.

At that point, the park director, Jasmine Dowlatshahi very aggressively told me to leave. “You are disturbing my workers,” she said.

Confused, I explained that I was a reporter from Circling the News and showed her my press pass, but she told me to leave, nonetheless.

I walked away and stood just outside the area, considering what to do. Surely, she must have shooed me off because she thought I was a prankster, I thought to myself. I am pretty young to be a reporter, so no surprise she might not believe me.

I waited for Rich Schmitt, our photographer. When he arrived, I explained the situation to him. He was similarly confused and went to go speak to Jasmine. With a large camera under his shoulder and professional-looking outfit, I was sure Jasmine would understand we weren’t pranksters, but people just looking to cover an event.

I watched from afar as Rich explained the situation. Then, I noticed that Jasmine had raised her voice and begun yelling. I walked over, concerned. “You people are obstructing us from setting up!” she yelled. “I need you to get out.”

At this point, I was extremely confused. Why was she so upset? We just wanted to ask two more questions to the workers, surely, they had a single minute to spare. And even if they didn’t, why was she so upset?

“You are giving me a panic attack,” she continued. “I’m shaking. I’m literally shaking.” (She stood completely still as she said this). At this point, parents and kids were beginning to stare at her, due to her loud voice. Looking back at them, she gritted her teeth. “Now look what you did, you got people staring at me,” she said. “Get out, go.”

At that point, we had no choice but to leave. Even now, I’m still baffled about that. What were we doing that had upset her so horribly? Why did she use that as an excuse to get upset at us? It’s an Easter event for kids. What could we be doing to disrupt it?

Those hungering for egg-hunting news will have to wait until April 6: the YMCA Egg Hunt has been rescheduled. Hopefully that one will be properly reported on.

(Editor’s note: This editor has been covering this event for decades as has Photographer Rich Schmitt. When I received a message from Plager and Schmitt, I delayed a scheduled meeting, and ran over to the Rec Center. I found Palisades Rec Center Director Jasmine Dowlatshahi in the office and asked why CTN  had been sent away. She screamed at this editor and accused me of not covering her fairly and that I had printed her salary in one story. As I tried to find out why she sent Schmitt and Plager off, she shouted, “I’m trying to do an event here and you’re torturing me.” She then took me to speak to her supervisor, Ramon Cerrillos, who was on site.

I spoke to Cerrillos and pointed out that this was a public event in a public space, and she had no right to chase a news reporter/photographer from the site.

Cerrillos said, “I’ll talk to her.” Schmitt and Plager, who behaved professionally, did not stay at the Rec Center, even though they had every right, because they both felt like they didn’t want to cause a scene on what is typically a happy event.

I pointed out that Plager is a high school student, and it was inconceivable that a Rec Center director would treat him like that. Cerrillos said, “I’ll talk to her.”  

I sent Cerrillos an email detailing our conversation, and I have forwarded that message to the Parks General Manager Jimmy Kim and to the local Park Advisory Board.)



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7 Responses to Reporter and Photographer Thrown out of Palisades Rec Center

  1. Judith Freed says:

    Well that seems completely weird. Perhaps she is having a mental breakdown of some kind. It is certainly something that needs to be followed up on. We don’t want someone with such an excited and difficult attitude managing events in our public park and recreation center.

  2. Paul Glasgall says:

    Sounds like someone needs anger management and a new job somewhere else!

  3. Debra says:

    I hope Circle the News is provided an apology and an assurance of ongoing access. We all know the importance of access of the press to cover stories and events, which is a right protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

  4. Trish Sobul says:

    Clearly a case of Transference. Jasmine no doubt has something very troubling going on in her life. Sorry for your young reporter. 😔

  5. Jim McCashin II says:

    Amazing, but evidence that not all people needing serious therapy are institutionalized. Good luck.

    Oh, and because the park is part of government, the Constitution has considerable importance here.

  6. Safia says:

    Hi everyone,

    I work at the Rec Center and was there that day. Mr. Plager was asked kindly several times to allow staff to set up. He ignored all initial requests. I, myself, told Mr. Plager on three occasions to please let me set up and that I needed to get some work done. To which he responded “you can answer a few more questions”. It was uncomfortable to say the least. After not listening on multiple occasions with several staff members, Jasmine stepped in. At the end of the day, we were trying to get an event set up for the community. After multiple requests, Mr. Plager continued almost to the point of harassment. This article is completely off and whoever allowed this to be published should really take a hard look at their ethics. To villainize a director with no basis is ridiculous. At the end of the day we were trying to get everything set up on time and make it a great day for the kids. This article is completely off.

  7. Sue says:


    I know that setting up a table takes a great deal of concentration, but it made sense that Mr. Plager would ask questions while someone was doing that, rather then when the staff was actually working with kids. I know that set up can be extremely complicated and putting blue plastic tablecloths on tables can be tricky. Setting up games requires the skill of a surgeon. Mr. Plager is professional. Unfortunately Jasmine, not only yelled at Plager, but also at the photographer and then when this editor came over, started yelling at me.

    Unfortunately, after the article at least two residents wrote me they had also had a similar incident and had reported that to the park board. I’m sorry you feel this article is completely off, but when you head a Rec Center, a certain amount of professionalism is required.


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