Letters (May 28, 2014)
by AVA News Service, May 28, 2014
GOOD OLD DAYS GONE FOREVER
Dear fellow community members,”We would like to make it abundantly clear to everyone that the Board’s primary goal is to ensure that quality medical, dental, and behavioral health care services continue here in the Anderson Valley. Every Board member works long and hard to achieve this goal. It is our sole purpose. FQHC Compliance a Necessity — As we have mentioned to you previously, in order to continue to provide quality health services, we need to maintain our Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) status for the financial support that this federal grant provides. To receive these federal dollars, we must meet 19 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) requirements in addition to the items we promised to abide by within the grant. These conditions were written, and agreed to, by Judith Dolan, Diane Agee, Paula Cohen, and Linn Hunter, all Executive Directors/CEOs of four Mendocino County community health clinics/centers at the time the grant was written.As noted in writing, and verbally, at our May 19th Board meeting, one of these promised items within the grant includes what is referred to as “shared services,” whereby other community health care clinics/centers in Mendocino County graciously offer to assist AVHC in whatever ways needed in order to ensure the survival of AVHC. Ask anyone in the community health clinic/center world, and they will tell you how fortunate AVHC is to have such support. This relationship is unprecedented. It is now 2014 and we are still offering health care services in the Anderson Valley, having overcome our very serious financial difficulties when we lost approximately $300,000 in state funding. These “shared” staff members have truly been a tremendous positive force behind our survival efforts. As we related to you in our 2013 end-of-the-year newsletter, we received a “best practice” award from HRSA for this creative and effective shared services effort.
We currently have three administrative level people who replaced the previously one administrative person that AVHC traditionally employed in the past. Diane Agee, our Executive Director, Dave Turner, our Chief Financial Officer, and Lucresha Renteria, our Chief Operations Officer, have done an outstanding job to ensure that we are on a more solid administrative and financial footing. For about $30,000 more per year than what we paid our previous Executive Director, we have excellent administrative, financial, and operations expertise and support at AVHC, and this support is available 24/7. We get a lot more experience and expertise than any one person could provide. “Clinical Services and Quality Improvement — We thank Mark Apfel, MD, Phan Tath, DMD, Jessica McIninch, PsyD, Cindy Arbanovella, FNP, and Shannon Spiller, PA-C, our five clinical providers, for their dedicated and continuing work at AVHC.
Major improvements in the clinical area are underway, some of which are legislated and/or necessary. These changes will lead to better and safer care for our community and will keep our clinicians doing what they do best...diagnosing and treating our patients and keeping them well. In order to be fully compliant on the clinical side, tough decisions sometimes need to be made, and in some cases these decisions should have been made years ago. There is critical risk if we do not comply with all state and federal regulations and requirements regarding our clinical services.”The administrative team continually searches for needed staff members on the clinical side of AVHC, and this includes the current search for a new physician.”Strategic Planning
The AVHC Board will be embarking on a strategic planning process. This will be kicked off by you, our community members, as a community needs assessment will arrive in your mailbox soon. You will also have the option to complete the assessment via Survey Monkey on the AVHC website. In addition, we will be conducting some focus groups with the intention of addressing specific needs of our farm workers, our hispanic community, and those of you who currently do not use the health center.”Future in Focus — Many public members voiced strong opinions at our last Board meeting, and many of these opinions related to the “good old days.” The world in which AVHC operates is changing significantly and we must also change to meet these new challenges. Please help us focus on our future. It is the Board’s responsibility to ensure that health care services are the best they can be, and will continue into the future. We need to serve our aging community AND serve our younger residents. We must go forward, and we hope you will join us in these efforts.
Ric Bonner, current Chairperson, AVHC BOD, and Sandy Parker, past Chairperson, AVHC BOD
HEALTH CENTER BOARD MUST LEAD, NOT FOLLOW
To The Editor:
I am grateful to the Board of Directors of the Anderson Valley Health Center for their steadfastness throughout the meeting May 19th. For the most part they were not defensive and seemed open to community questions and constructive criticism. They are nice people who are my friends and neighbors. They are very well meaning. They have a very difficult job which requires diplomacy, intelligence and strength in an era when our Health Center becomes a corporation to meet Federal guidelines. A very difficult task. They need diplomacy, strength and intelligence to navigate communication between management, community and staff as well.
The Board clearly demonstrated their gratitude to Diane Agee, Executive Director, for what they perceive as saving the Health Center from fiscal disaster and possible closing.
It was also Diane Agee who admitted responsibility for the gratuitously cruel manner of drop-kicking Kathy Corral, manager of the dental clinic, out of the clinic. A board member stated that we had to put the incident behind us. I disagree.
The treatment of Kathy, and the low morale of the staff, are surely indicative of a lack of compassion and respect on the part of the Executive Director toward our other friends and neighbors who work at the clinic. Kathy's treatment should be foremost in our minds. It is a clear message to the Board that they must oversee management and be firm. I can imagine that this is difficult given their perception that Diane Agee “saved” them. It will indeed take all of their intelligence, strength and diplomacy to do this.
Mary Pat Palmer
SURVEY? WHAT SURVEY?
On May 22, our award-winning newspaper (the Mendocino B-Con) reported an online hospital survey at www.mcdh.org/survey. But as of May 26, there's nothing there. Golly. If you advertise a survey, shouldn't it be visible?
Scott M. Peterson
NEW MANAGEMENT NEEDED
I attended the Anderson Valley Health Center's board of directors meeting on May 19 and came away with a few observations.
To obtain funding from the federal government the Health Center's management has to jump through many ever-changing hoops. To accomplish this they have to form a partnership with management from other, larger healthcare providers.
Many Anderson Valley residents (and clinic workers) are very unhappy with the current management arrangement and the health center is losing badly needed community sport.
I believe the board of directors should abandon its current management partnership and find a new partner who shares the values of the local community.
FROST MONSTER REPORT
Valley residents organized a community meeting on May 7th to address the night time nuisance of frost protection machines. Grape growers showed up in numbers and expressed extreme disregard for the complaining residents, claiming that their profits were far more important than residents sleeping at night. Many of us left feeling so insulted, that we decided to continue meeting to plan strategies to end this assault. We met again on the 21st. Our next meeting is on Wed the 4th of June. Of course the highest vision for this situation would be for the grape growers to admit that they made a mistake so that the community can forgive them (we are a very forgiving community) and we can all move on with our lives. However, in case that doesn’t happen, we want to be prepared. Here are some things you can do to help.
1. Sign the petition. There is one at the Caretaker's Garden on Lambert Lane, and others will be carrying them throughout the community.
2. Fill out the Public Nuisance complaint form. There are copies at the Caretaker's Garden and you can leave your completed form there, or if that is not convenient for you, you can go to the county web site and look under the Planning Department for the General Nuisance Complaint Form
Please include your parcel number in the complaint. (not necessary if you are a renter.) Your parcel number can be found on your tax bill. Print it out and send it or fax it to 860 North Bush Street, Ukiah, CA 95482 Fax: (707) 463-5709
3. Attend the next meeting on Wed., June 4th. Email email@example.com for the time and venue
4. Join a work committee. Currently we have a committee working on mapping the monsters in the valley and those affected by them. Another committee is working with our 5th district supervisor researching the best political/governmental path to follow. We have a committee working on physical direct action, and another working on social media direct action. A few folks are researching frost protection technology.
5. Make a donation.Together we will stop these health hazards so we can all return to peaceful nights in the valley.
BOMBS NOT CLOWNS
Come see the clowns down at the Grange, and I’m not talking about Grangers either. ClownSnotBombs is presenting their Spaghetti Western with the Real Saras. You saw two of them clowns at the Variety show last March roping and riding. It features real clowning around, acrobatics and more. The clowns think those Real Saras sound real sweet so they reckon they should come on down a croon a bit. At the AV Solar Grange Sat., June 14th at 7 PM $5 for kids and $10 for adults plus snacks.
Then there is a Toxic Free Future show which I don't know where you put that stuff, but I would appreciate a plug.
Did they know that Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate could become so ubiquitous that it’s no found everywhere? Studies are finding it breast milk and may be causing many current health problems. Tuesday June 6th Greg Krouse of Toxic Free Future radio on KZYX & Z (90.7 and 91.5 FM) discusses this with Katherine Paul writer for Organic Consumer Awareness. Was Roundup different or just another toxic herbicide that goes everywhere?
I know that in some quarters I am seen as Mendocino County DA Dave Eyster's hired media hack, and that my comments will be immediately scorned. But frankly I'm still trying to understand what's driving recent negative coverage in the Press Democrat of the DA's three-year-old marijuana restitution program.
It was a bold move by Eyster in 2011 to launch a program aimed at bringing clarity to prosecution efforts and eliminating costly courthouse practices. At the time local media jumped on Eyster's announcement, and grilled the new DA during face-to-face interviews about details of the innovative program. A statewide legal newspaper joined in. They did what good reporters do by examining public policies, asking questions, and writing informative stories about any major shift. At issue then was how marijuana cases were going to be prosecuted in Mendocino County in the face of a hodgepodge of ineffective and confusing statewide marijuana practices, and a local court system swamped by a case overload.
Yes, Glenda Anderson, Eyster implemented a new approach to marijuana cases “which is unique to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office.” But so what if Sonoma County DA Jill Ravitch and others chose to duck the marijuana prosecution crisis in courts and continue the same tired practices that proved so ineffective when she worked as a prosecutor in Mendocino County.
Eyster chose to research, review and study a myriad of conflicting statewide enforcement practices. After much thought, Eyster abandoned the lax, confusing and costly prosecution practices of the past in favor of using existing state laws to craft a new no-nonsense approach. Eyster has been open and transparent about his program, even sitting down recently with Ms. Anderson for two hours to answer questions.
There is no doubt Eyster's program has produced results. In just three years marijuana cases that used to languish in the local justice system for up to 18 months are now resolved in about three months. Can you imagine the cost savings for taxpayers? Eyster in addition has recouped $3.3 million during the past three years from convicted marijuana growers to directly cover law enforcement costs that were gobbling up local budgets.
How is it that this proven program suddenly involves questionable practices as cited in the recent PD coverage? How is it that the new local rules are somehow seen as potentially unfair to dope growers who cry poor and then use public resources to defend themselves? As for the ballyhoo surrounding a rumored federal investigation into Mendocino marijuana practices? Good. Take a look. And if the feds don't like how Mendocino does business, then let me repeat Eyster's standing offer to federal prosecutors: come in, take over marijuana prosecution and pick up all the costs.
As for allegations that Eyster is abusing his legal discretion, perhaps the PD and other critics should ponder court rulings on the subject, as cited in this article:
Prosecutorial Discretion (Continuing Legal Education article (reprinted in pertinent part) from the Los Angeles Daily Journal) By Dolores A. Carr (DDA, Santa Clara County)
“The role of a prosecutor is to represent the people of the state. The prosecutor ensures that victims' rights and interests are protected and that criminals are punished.
“Representing the people means that the prosecution strives to respect the public interest, including the interests of crime victims and accused people. The prosecutor's goal is thus not to win at all costs but to reach a just result.
“The prosecutor has tremendous discretion in deciding how best to accomplish that goal. Prosecutors are bound by state and federal constitutional and statutory law in the exercise of their duties.
“However, prosecutors enjoy significant discretion in deciding whom to charge, which charges to file and which penalties to seek, on obtaining a conviction. This article discusses the proper scope of that discretion and the extent to which it may be supervised by the courts.
“Our Constitution delineates the role of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. See California Constitution, Article III, Section 3. As part of the executive branch, the prosecutor enforces the law by deciding whom to charge and which charges to file.
In deciding whether to file charges, California prosecutors rely on California Rule of Professional Conduct 5-110: ‘A member in government service shall not institute or cause to be instituted criminal charges when the member knows or should know that the charges are not supported by probable cause. If, after the institution of criminal charges, the member in government service having responsibility for prosecuting the charges becomes aware that those charges are not supported by probable cause, the member shall promptly so advise the court in which the criminal matter is pending.’
“So long as the prosecutor is exercising discretion in making a charging decision, that decision does not violate separation of powers. Thus, the prosecutor's decision about the type and number of crimes to charge is ordinarily not subject to judicial review. See People v. Cortes, 71 Cal.App.4th 62 (1999). This is true even if the prosecutor's decision concerning which charges to file constricts the sentencing options available to the courts. See Davis v. Municipal Court, 46 Cal.3d 64 (1988). For example, the prosecutor may decide to file a charge alleging use of a firearm even though that decision forecloses the court's ability to grant probation. See People v. Tanner, 24 Cal.3d 514 (1979).
“The separation-of-powers doctrine comes into play after charges are filed. Once ‘the decision to prosecute has been made, the process which leads to acquittal or sentencing is fundamentally judicial in nature.’ People v. Tenorio, 3 Cal.3d 89 (1970). After charges are filed, the prosecution may not exercise a veto over the court's powers by, for example, barring the court from dismissing a ‘strike’ prior (People v. Superior Court (Romero), 13 Cal.4th 497 (1996)), or barring a court from reducing a “wobbler” to a misdemeanor (Esteybar v. Municipal Court, 5 Cal.3d 119 (1971)).”
Mike Geniella, Ukiah
BUMP & DUMP
As a Mendocino employee I would say your reporting on the contract negotiation snafu has been pretty accurate during the last few years. SEIU clearly staked out an adversarial position, first to stonewall the need for a pay cut, and now to restore it whether the County has the money or not. Our SEIU leadership got so good at stalling they forced the County to impose a 12.5% cut when we would have settled for 10% like everyone else. When the leadership finally agreed to put it to a vote, it wasn't that hard to figure out that 10% was better than 12.5%.
Since then SEIU has done nothing for the members except collect our dues payments. The one-day strike was a big joke. They brought in several busloads from the Bay Area to bump up the numbers. I'm not sure we even voted to strike. When you went in to vote there were always at least some of the inner circle standing around so it wasn't like a secret ballot. And they never said what the totals were.
The bigger problem is a lack of leadership. They rotate in and out, these part-timers from Santa Rosa or Oakland who don't know anything about the area. They don't even pay attention. That is how you get them calling for packing the Board of Supervisors meeting on Low Gap Road when they were meeting in Mendocino or Fort Bragg. And how about Mend Mendocino, organized out of Oakland? They tried that last year and it fell flat. So they tried rolling it out again this year and it fell even flatter. The last time I checked only two people bothered signing up.
There are two basic problems. 1, The people calling the shots are out-of-towners who don't know anything about the area or the people who live here. 2. The other problem is a County job is not that bad when you compare pay and benefits to the private sector. They only look bad compared to Sonoma County or the Bay Area where the economy can support higher wages. But if you live here because your family is here or you like not living in the Bay Area, it's not that bad. Which is why you get hundreds of applicants for some of the county jobs when they come open. So SEIU is faced with trying to convince my neighbor working for barely minimum wage and limited benefits that they need to support me getting my 10% back along with all the bennies including medical and retirement that he can only dream of.
The ritual grandstanding is another problem. The so-called leadership keeps telling the Board of Supervisors we want you back at the negotiating table when they know all they have to do is send a letter saying that and the county is required to meet with them. They just want to milk it for the PR mileage. The online strike fund is another joke. How serious is our leadership about negotiating since they have been talking up a strike and collecting money for it since before negotiations began?
Count me as one of the employees who believes the County (as reported earlier by you) offered to pay a one-time Christmas bonus and stop the health plan increase, but our so-called leaders turned it down and refused to put it to us for a vote. Then they lied and said the county offered nothing. Here we are six months later and still nothing. And if our so-called leaders keep doing things the same way that is probably where we will stay.
I don't know why no one is organizing to dump SEIU except for the nastiness they will get from the diehards which is why I will not sign my name to this letter.
BOOKS TO BE ASHAMED OF
There is a saying that's been making the rounds lately to the general effect of, Never be ashamed of anything you read. The implication being that printed matter is inherently more valid and noble than other forms of expression and therefore excluded from standards of acceptability that might be imposed on (for instance) television. This is patently, flagrantly and demonstrably untrue. There is plenty of reading material to be ashamed of and I'm not just talking about supermarket tabloids and neo-Nazi militia group newsletters.
The publishing industry like every other industry is engaged in the business of turning out pap for the undiscerning, credulous masses while running a small side project of producing work of genuine artistic merit. I'd be surprised if 10% of books published in any given year were readable.
Look at the cover of the book you're currently reading. Is it embossed? Is there a blurb from Stephen King on it? Do any of the review excerpts contain the words "rollicking" or "crackling"? Is there a presidential seal, detective's badge, palm tree, swastika, swords, skyline, sniper scope, soft focus anything, or a big fat radio host on it? If so, do not take this book out in public or risk being sneered at by me or my ilk. Feel the shame.
I have here a few specific glaring examples of books and authors whose perusal brings shame not only upon you, gentle reader, but upon your family and ancestors.
I don't want to seem insensitive, because if you're reading James Patterson there's a good chance you're developmentally disabled and if so, good for you! Patterson is a great place to start before moving on to more challenging material like Dr. Seuss. If not, shame on you! Remember the Fried-egg-this-is-your-brain-on-drugs commercial? Your brain on James Patterson is an old cheese riddled with mealworms. Equivalent shame: getting pantsed on the playground in elementary school.
If you read and enjoy the work of Stephen King — if you have not been able to figure out after producing eleventy-jillion pages of the most pointlessly bloviated crap ever put to paper that he is the most screamingly untalented hack ever to lay waste to our precious forests, then shame on you. Stephen King is not, as some critics would attest, to literature as McDonald's is to cuisine. Stephen King is to literature as General William Westmoreland was to Vietnam. Equivalent shame: farting loudly in elevator containing only you and an attractive stranger of the opposite sex.
If you are an adult and read any Harry Potter — if you are a teenager — hell, if you are anything but a dim and an unimaginative ten-year old and reading Harry Potter, hang your head. If you are an adult enjoying Harry Potter and betraying that fact by referencing characters, jargon, incantations, and arcana from that sad and pathetic world in your everyday life, then — I'm sorry, but I really believe there is no hope for you. I don't like to advocate suicide for anyone less than genocidal dictators, but perhaps it's time you experience the heady joys of driving drunk. Retrieve stuck toast with a fork — that's what they're for, silly. Have unprotected sex with homeless people -- their bodies are surprisingly trim and they're very grateful. Engaging in this behavior has the threefold effect of making you a more interesting person, potentially absolving you of your accrude shame and gives the rest of us a real shot at never having to listen to you again. Equivalent Shame: having your Nobel Prize stripped for plagiarism.
If you read Game of Thrones, your shame, while substantial, is tempered by the superhuman fortitude displayed by simply hacking your way through what is essentially the Bataan Death March of popular fiction. This turgid melodrama has occupied more space on the public consciousness than global warming or the Pakistani nuclear threat and you should be ashamed for participating. Equivalent Shame: getting caught singing with your headphones on when you thought you were alone.
50 Shades of Gray? 50 Shames A Day, more like. It's not that it's porn, it's just abysmal writing. I suppose if you're reading this for the titillation factor you could be excused, but you are aware there is an Internet full of all manner of pervertica, right? Your equivalent shame would be trying to order Pouilly-Fuisse in a nice restaurant and saying "Pooly-foos."
When I was a kid, chicks dug unicorns. Now it's vampires. Times change, I get it. But please, leave it to the young ladies. If you're a grown person reading Twilight, please refer to the above section on Harry Potter.
If you're a fan of the war-porn of the racist repressed homosexual soldier groupie Tom Clancy, you should be ashamed and may be suffering from a head injury. Seek medical attention.
If you find yourself occupying any of the above categories, you're sitting there steeped in shame and probably thinking something like, What an amazingly perceptive and elegant rant! Thank you for shedding the scales from my eyes and the stain from my soul. But what now? You've torn me down, is it not now your responsibility to build me back up?
I could do that. I could give you a reading list that would boost your IQ, freshen your breath, add luster and body to your hair, take inches off your waistline, and clear up that rash. I could make you so interesting, erudite and urbane you'd make Cole Porter look like Junior Samples.
But I won't. This is a journey you must undertake solo. Dive into the world of real writing and discover the kind of magic that can be wrought with the written word by the kind of person with the ability to change your life, not just divert you for an hour while waiting for the dentist. Happy reading and tsk, tsk, tsk.
MCCARTHYISM AT PUBLIC RADIO
At its March, 2014, meeting the Board of Directors of Mendocino County Public Radio (MCPB), colloquially known by the call letters, KZYX, made its first move to outlaw dissent among the Board. The Board of Directors, led by Board Chair Eliane Herring, and advised by the station's embattled General Manager and Executive Director, John Coate, was asked to consider signing a loyalty pledge. A loyalty pledge! Didn't loyalty pledges go out of style, along with blacklisting, fear mongering, and red-baiting, in late-1950s, with the fall of Senator Joe McCarthy? Maybe not. Specifically, the idea of a “MCPB Board List of Responsibilities” was introduced by Chair Herring at the March meeting. I was the only member among the Board's nine members who opposed it. I had serious concerns about the so-called list of responsibilities. I believed the Board needed a legal opinion on its legality and enforceability. The following items from list gave me the greatest concern: 5.) the “confidentiality clause"; 7.) the clause to “do nothing to violate the trust of those that elected or appointed a director to the board,” and 10.) the clause to “do nothing undermine the authority of the General Manager." I was aghast. I believed the confidentiality clause violated the principle of open meetings. It defeated transparency and accountability at the station. Meanwhile, the trust clause was vague. What exactly constitutes a violation of trust? Finally, the clause promising not to undermine the authority of the General Manager was tantamount to giving the General Manager dictatorial control of the station. It wasn't going to happen on my watch. Nope. And I didn't care if my opposition made me the most hated guy at the station. I was prepared to assume the role of Alger Hiss in this new reenactment of McCarthyism. I made such a fuss that Chair Eliane Herring tabled the item. But the worse was yet to come. On Wednesday, May 21, GM John Coate, wrote the following to the station's volunteer broadcasters. The station has approximately 100 volunteer broadcasters.
As to the point, I have received a lot of thoughtful replies to the question and more are coming in. I will compile them and come back with a more refined set of questions based on those replies. Why am I doing this? Because while the Programmer Handbook addresses a number of ways a programmer can lose the privilege due to on-air behavior, off-air is left much more vague. I think it should be made more specific. There is some precedent already though. Beth Bosk and Sister Yasmine were both put off the air because of their off-air behavior. But it was never really codified.
After reading GM Coate's screed, I'm left wondering: What off-air behavior? What off-air behavior will be on the list of banned behaviors at KZYX? What behavior will result in getting a shows cancelled and broadcaster kicked off the air? Conviction of a felony crime? Imprisonment? I can completely understand being kicked off the air for felony criminal behavior, but I don't think GM Coate is talking about criminal behavior. So, what is GM Coate talking about? What conduct will get a broadcaster in trouble at KZYX, I wonder? Criticism of station management? Is that enough to get a broadcaster kicked off the air? How about other criticism? Criticism of the Board? Criticism of station policy? Criticism of another broadcaster? Or how about the very act of my writing this op-ed piece? Will that get me kicked off the air? Hmm. What other conduct? Where does the slippery slope end? How about getting kicked off the air for holding controversial opinions? Holding certain political beliefs? Belonging to certain religions? Belonging to certain organizations deemed subversive by KZYX station management? Perhaps even making certain lifestyle choices unacceptable to station management? Sounds like McCarthyism all over again. Any policy in this area would almost almost certainly be actionable in court. A policy mandating or regulating off-air conduct would immediately have KZYX defending itself against claims of reprisals, double standards, and discrimination. If anyone thinks KZYX's legal bills for the renewal of its FCC licenses are too high — those legal bills are now pushing $10,000 — I shudder to think what defending against such claims in court would cost in the future. John Coate would bankrupt the station by trying to mandate or regulate off-air behavior. Think about it. Almost certainly, none of the above claims would be dismissed by a judge. The opportunity for making case law in a constitutional challenge at publicly-funded radio station, like KZYX, would far too compelling. When the day is done, a judge's career is determined by how published case law came out of cases heard in his or her court. Also, there's all the negative publicity that would come from a publicly-funded radio station trying to mandate and regulate the off-air behaviors of its volunteer broadcasters. The five objections to the renewal of Mendocino County Public Broadcasting's two FCC licenses, KZYX and KZYZ, drew a spark of national attention — I filed one of those objections — but creating a policy for required off-air conduct would almost certainly create a firestorm of controversy. And I don't think any other public media station in the country would support an attempt by KZYX to mandate or regulate off-air behavior. They would be aghast. Talk about making KZYX a pariah among its peers! Does KZYX really seek further negative publicity? Weren't the five objections to the renewal of their FCC licenses, including my own objection, enough of an embarrassment? Weren't the 107 members of “KZYX Members for Change” on Facebook enough of an embarrassment? But the nightmare might not stop at public humiliation, if the station tries to mandate or regulated off-air behavior among its volunteer broadcasters. I can also see the U.S. Congress getting involved. I explain why. Any attempt by a publicly-funded radio station, like KZYX, to mandate or regulate off-air conduct would be an invitation for Congress to jump into the fray along with the courts. In the 1990s, Congress got involved at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) over what constituted freedom of speech and public decency. Actually, Congress went beyond getting simply “involved.” Congress tried to kill the NEA. In 1995-1997, Congress tried to kill the NEA, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) — all funded by public dollars. Congress almost succeeded. There's no law that says Congress must fund the arts or the media. It's a budget thing.Incidentally, there is some relevant case law from that time. The case filed by the “NEA Four” in 1993, with lead plaintiff Karen Finley, centered on subsection (d)(1) of 20 U.S.C. § 954 which provides that the NEA Chairperson shall ensure that only excellence and merit are the criteria by which applications are judged. The court ruled in 524 U.S. 569 (1998), that Section 954(d)(1) is facially valid, as it neither inherently interferes with First Amendment rights nor violates constitutional vagueness principles. In other words, it can be inferred that only criteria by which publicly-funded broadcasters would be judged would be the same criteria that publicly-funded artists are judged — excellence and merit. Let me state that again. If public dollars are involved, then only excellence and merit matter — excellence and merit. Again, the courts have already decided this issue in the area of publicly-funded art. No doubt the courts would jump at the chance for a test case in the area of publicly-funded media.The NEA, NEH, and CPB all have interests that are aligned. For the same reason that the NEA fought back against mandated public decency standards in the 1990s, I also don't think the CPB would sit still for a code of required off-air conduct for volunteer broadcasters. I don't think they would sit still for one minute. The CPB's very survival would be imperiled. They would not welcome negative publicity created by one of their own, KZYX. Remember, KZYX receives some money from the CPB. Remember, too, Congress can take away the CPB's funding for any reason, or for no reason at all. Then, there are the conservative groups who would be ready to pounce on KZYX: The Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, The Project for a New American Century, and others. These right-wing groups are always ready to pounce on public television and public radio at almost any opportunity — all in the name of smaller government and smaller budgets. A code for required off-air conduct at public radio would be a constitutional issue for these groups. It would be like waving a red flag at a bull. But there's more. Even liberal groups would be concerned about the free speech issues implied in a code for required off-air conduct at a public radio station like KZYX. I was once married to a national reporter who was also a Carter Center Fellow. After reading GM John Coate's post to KZYX's volunteer broadcasters about off-air conduct, I spoke with someone affiliated with the Carter Center. Together, we made a list of all the groups who would be aghast at a code of required off-air conduct. They include not just many liberal groups, but also some libertarian groups, like the Annenberg Public Policy Center. I then asked another person who has been a guest on my show, and who has impeccable national media credentials, to put a call into Annenberg. Why? To get a read on this dubious business of a code for required off-air conduct. I'll ask that person to poll a few other places, too. But I'm not expecting too much support for Coate's proposal. There's no place for McCarthyism in public radio. KZYX may be small, but our issues are big. Incidentally, Beth Bosk and Sister Yasmin Solomon were kicked off the air years ago at KZYX for no good reason. They are both outspoken, intelligent, independent women. They are strong women. That's the only thing they were guilty of. Beth Bosk is the editor and founder of the highly respected The New Settler Interviews. Sister Yasmin is a popular disc jockey. The KZYX Board of Directors should direct GM John Coate to give them their shows back — with an apology.
John Sakowicz, Ukiah
(Disclosure: For the last six years, John Sakowicz has been the host and producer of “All About Money” on KZYX. He writes a popular blog at the station's website. Sakowicz is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Mendocino County Public Broadcasting (MCPB) and has served as its Treasurer. MCPB is the holder of two FCC licenses, KZYX and KZYZ. Earlier this year, Sakowicz filed an informal objection at the FCC against the renewal of the MCPB's two licenses, pending a change in management at the station. It was the first objection to an FCC license renewal from a sitting board member at a public radio station.)
THIS IS FAIR COVERAGE?
I sent this letter to the Record-Bee on May 4th, but they still haven't published it. The info in it is very eye opening. Please read this. Investigate and Find the Truth Before You Vote I feel like we have been living in the Wild West for so long with the good old boys running the show. It is always a surprise to see what new antics go on here each day. Recently I found out three disturbing things about DA Anderson. 1) In 2011, four people in Middletown were arrested for selling marijuana to a minor and the DA immediately released them from jail without due process of the law. He didn’t wait for the police reports or talk to the arresting officer. The DA said he released them because it was just $5 worth of marijuana, and ridiculed Sheriff Rivero for making a three-gram bust. I don't know about you guys but even if it was only 5 cents worth, contributing to the delinquency of a minor is still wrong. It is very suspicious, though, that one of the four people released was the son of DA Anderson’s girlfriend. 2) I think the worst thing that the DA did was concerning an ex-deputy sheriff who was accused of 16 counts of child molestation on a local girl when she was just 13 years old. The ex deputy used the RIMs system information to get personal info on this girl to target her. The DA personally knew this man because the man’s brother worked for many years in the DA’s office. To make a long story short, the Judge rejected a plea bargain where the ex-deputy would plead guilty to one count, so the defense had the case moved to Marin County and DA Anderson drove to Marin and testified for the defense that he knew this man for 15 years and he was a good man. The case ended with a mistrial and the ex-deputy got off scott-free and doesn't even have to register as a sex offender. The jury never knew about the plea bargain or it being rejected by the judge for being too lenient. After that, this same ex-deputy became a girls' assistant track coach at Mt. Vista Middle School; luckily a wise parent who knew of him reported it to the school and he was fired. The DA should be ashamed of himself for not helping the victim or any future victims of this ex deputy (this is the second time the DA let a sex offender go. Look up Justin Lazard. He doesn’t have to register as a sex offender, either). 3) The State Board Of Attorneys suspended him in 2010, but at the same time he was still working as a DA. This was very illegal, no respect for our laws. And he is supposed to represent the law. These are just some of the wrong doings that upset Sheriff Rivero and caused a riff between the DA and Sheriff. Our Sheriff has integrity and doesn’t show favoritism. He has been fighting corruption since his first day on the job. There is no love lost between Rivero and Anderson, because apparently they both interpret the law differently. I think the best team for the county is Sheriff Rivero and DA candidate Andre M. Ross. They will not sweep any cases under the rug or show favoritism. They are without oppression or intimidation from the good old boys. Please investigate everything I said. I encourage you all to read a five-part article titled “DA Anderson vs. Sheriff Rivero: Who started this fight!” at http://tinyurl.com/andersonvsrivero1 Your eyes will truly be opened just like mine were. We are Americans and need to keep our free speech and free writing. Those we vote into office need to follow the laws of the United States. We need new energy and intelligent decisions in the court. Please re-elect Sheriff Rivero and elect Andre M. Ross. I only have the best for the county in my heart. We need to feel happy, secure, protected and have peace of mind. God bless our beautiful Lake County. One final note: I was pleased to read that The Committee to Re-Elect Sheriff Rivero announced his most recent endorsements which are: Lake County Democratic Central Committee, Lake County Stonewall Democratic Club, Teamsters Local 665, Teamsters Public Affairs Council, North Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and Scott’s Valley Band of Pomo Indians.
My Response to Barbara Lamb
Barbara, I do not know where you are getting your information but to my knowledge the board of KZYX never set aside any money for a Ukiah studio. There was mention of a grand plan including the construction of a new transmitter tower as well as renting and building of a studio space at the annual Membership Meeting in early May. There was no final budget on the project but the impression I got was that it would run $50K - $100K.
Unfortunately, at the same meeting, members were appraised of the fact that our rural status for NPR has been revoked resulting in $25K a year raise in expenses. Also, for demographic reasons, KZYX will be receiving up to $50K less from the CPB this year.
That means that for the current plan for a Ukiah studio to work, the station will have to make well over $100K this year over and above what was made last year. There was no mention of how all this extra money would be raised, and my feeling was that the Ukiah project was at least a year away, if really feasible any time soon.
My concern with this entire FCC debacle is not so much that John Sakowitz complained, but that at least four others did as well. This is not one person with a personal vendetta. I am curious as to the motivations of those complaints and feel they should be transparently analyzed in order to determine if there is any legitimacy to them. If there is legitimacy, changes should be made in order to comply with FCC regulations. This would seem to me to be a rational way to deal with this situation.
I am in no way speaking for Mr. Sakowitz, but have been frustrated with the amount of disinformation somehow surrounding this debate and others throughout last years Board election. I would like to invite all those interested to join us at kzyxtalk on the MCN list serve where we are having the kind of conversations that shed light on issues such as these.
I would urge everyone to reserve judgement until all the facts are revealed through community dialogue.