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Bill Heisel joins Business full-time to report on housing

August 20, 2008 | 12:18 pm

Business Editor Sallie Hofmeister's memo to staff:

I am pleased to announce that Bill Heisel is now a permanent member of the Business staff and, in the near term, will be covering (along with Scott Reckard) the mortgage meltdown, housing foreclosures and their impact on the regional economy.

Bill has been a quick study on the banking crisis during the last several weeks, when he has been on loan to us from California. Bill quickly turned around stories on the fading fortunes of Downey Savings & Loan and on the flawed $4 billion government foreclosure fund.

As an investigative reporter for California since early 2006, Bill has written about a congressman who cheated on his taxes, the safety lapses in the fertility industry and the overprescription of addictive drugs at the hospital affiliated with the Betty Ford center. His personal high, however, came when he was cussed out by the mayor of Irvine for writing about the promotion of a city executive who had stolen money during a previous city job to feed his cocaine habit.

A graduate of the University of Montana, Bill drew inspiration for his career choice from his mother, a journalism graduate of the University of Missouri who he said "was my first editor, unbeknownst to my real editors."

Bill joined the Orange County Register, along with his wife Jennifer Hieger, in 1999, after the couple won a Loeb for financial journalism and a Scripps Howard award for environmental reporting for exposing the sins of the dairy industry in a series for the Yakima Herald-Republic in eastern Washington. Our own Jerry Hirsch -- at the time a business editor at the Register -- pushed for the couple to be hired.

Jennifer left journalism and is now the public relations director for the Irvine Co., but Bill went on to win another Loeb at the Register for a series on the buying and selling of human body parts. He also was a two-time Pulitzer finalist for the paper's report card of Orange County hospitals in 2004 and for stories on lead-laden candy produced in Mexico and sold in the U.S.

Bill and Jennifer live in the artist's village in downtown Santa Ana with their 2-month-old baby, Charlotte Ray. They are gallery crawlers and have a small collection of Southern California art. Bill also has a large collection of music and a taste for live shows. His "all-time triumph”: meeting PJ Harvey at a concert of the Bulgarian Women's Choir.

Bill will report to John Corrigan. When he's not working from the O.C. office, he'll be seated in the Colker-Hirsch neighborhood. Please give him a warm welcome.