August 19, 2004
Radio rebel Amy Goodman at the Muni
SUPES BLAST PATRIOT
Tuesday, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors joined the
341 other cities and counties around the nation that have officially
expressed concern about the Patriot Act. The board voted unanimously
to send letters to President Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft,
Congressman Mike Thompson and both California senators asking
them to repeal portions of the act that infringe on civil liberties.
The resolution also pledges that county resources will not be
used to enforce the act, "to the greatest extent possible."
Arcata City Councilmember Dave Meserve, a vocal critic of the
act, thanked the board for taking the issue seriously, but asked
supervisors to consider removing the "greatest extent possible"
phrase from the resolution, as it was "soft." The board
declined, but on Supervisor Roger Rodoni's suggestion voted unanimously
to change wording that asked local residents and police officers
to join it in affirming civil liberties. Under the revised language,
the request refers to the rights of "citizens" -- rather
than "people" -- to freedom of speech, religion, due
process and equal protection. In September 2002. The board passed
a related resolution that strengthened confidentiality of library
by HELEN SANDERSON
Tenants at the Eureka City Trailer park say that disturbing things have been happening in their community recently.
One long-time resident, Julie Wilks [in photo, on the right] , has been denied use of a disabled parking space close to her trailer, one she had used for years. Having the space taken away means that she must back her car into an awkward space -- something nearly impossible for her, given her neck injury.
Official notices from park management to tenants have been popping up on their front doors with alarming frequency, tenants say, giving them the feeling of living under the constant supervision of a particularly overbearing nanny.
And tenants say they have been told that they if they must let their cats out of their homes, the cats must be leashed -- unless they want to see their pets taken to the pound.
"It's gotten to the point where I don't want to leave my trailer anymore," Wilks said.
Wilks and other tenants have formed a renters union -- the Eureka Trailer City Renters Association (ETCRA) -- to combat these and other grievances, which they say all began when new managers Lonnie and Sharli Haines arrived last March. And they have recently learned that this isn't the first time mobile home park residents have had problems with the Haineses' management style.
At their previous job, as managers of the Royal Oak Mobile Home Park in Davis, the couple were sued by one tenant for racial discrimination and retaliatory eviction, charges that they settled immediately before moving to Eureka.
When reached at her office Monday, Sharli Haines declined to speak with the Journal.
Ivy Anderson, who took the Haineses to court, said last week that they were verbally abusive and were known to force their way into residents' homes. Anderson also says the managers called her racial slurs and evicted her. She said that she was the only African-American on the property, which is owned by Sierra Corporate Management.
"They make your life miserable," Anderson said. "It was the worst place I have ever lived in my life."
Anderson, who spoke with the Journal from her home in Davis, settled the case in February. But she said that fear of further retaliation from the Haineses has prompted her to obtain a restraining order against the couple, she said.
Jack Vetter, the Sacramento attorney who represented Anderson, said that while details of her settlement with the Haineses could not be disclosed, he is looking into reopening the case, based on information he has received about the Haineses' activities in Eureka.
Anderson's fears of the couple are echoed by the Eureka residents who have lived under the Haineses' management since March.
Wilks claims that Sharli Haines photographed her when she went door-to-door gathering petition signatures from residents who wanted to see changes in the park and the management style. The ETCRA said that signatures were gathered from 42 of the 60 residents.
In an interview last month, Sharli Haines said that there were fewer than 42 signatures and that many of those who signed later asked to be taken off of the petition. Joanne Caywood [in photo, on the left] , president of the ETCRA, said that no one ever asked her or Wilks to have their name removed.
The ETCRA members have sought help from Humboldt Legal Aid. Although no claim has been filed, a Legal Aid attorney said that doesn't mean the tenants won't pursue legal action in the future.
Tenants say that one potential problem in any lawsuit is the difficulty of determining exactly who owns the park. Documents in the Humboldt County Recorder's Office show that a Bay Area-based company called Eureka Housing Partner I, LLC, bought the park in June, 2003. But tenants say that the issue is confusing, because in documents the Haineses identify themselves as employees of a company called Cascade Corporate Management. When asked by residents to clarify the ownership of the park, the Haineses have refused.
According to the California Civil Code Provisions for trailer park residents, managers must disclose the name, address and business telephone number of the owners in writing upon request of a mobile home owner.
Calls placed to John McDougall, a co-owner of Eureka Housing Partners, were not returned.
ETCRA members will hold their next meeting on Sept. 8 at Eureka's Labor Temple.
by HANK SIMS
Local Earth First! activists got some air time on HBO last week, but it wasn't the type of national media interest that the environmental group generally seeks out.
Instead, they became one of the many victims of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen -- a.k.a "Ali G," the hip-hop television presenter who astonishes guests on his program, "Da Ali G Show," with his near-total cluelessness. Cohen immerses himself so thoroughly in the role that his interviewees have no idea that it is an act.
Shunka Wakan, a well-known local Earth Firster, said that he was first contacted a few months ago by an Ali G representative. This person told Wakan that a late-night British television show geared toward youth wished to come to Humboldt County to film a segment on forest issues. Wakan offered to help, and Cohen came to town a few months ago.
In the final program, which first aired last Sunday night, Cohen is first seen walking up to a Freshwater tree-sit, his face twisted in disgust at the mud, which sullies his brand-new tennis shoes. He discusses politics with Wakan and offers not-so-constructive criticism of Earth First's "crap" songs.
At one point, Cohen tells his viewers to show support for the "tree people" by "doing something that makes a difference -- burn a car, whatever. Mash people up. Let them know that you're doing it for a cause, so we can get some publicity." This led to a long debate, in which the earnest Wakan tried to explain the merits of non-violence to his befuddled interviewer.
Wakan said last week that the experience caused him some stress at the time, as he felt that Cohen was trying to get him, along with fellow forest activists "Grasshopper" and "Whisper," to advocate violence in front of the camera.
"By the time it was over, I had serious doubts about who this person was," he said. "The FBI and COINTELPRO have been known to set up Earth First! in the past."
When he realized that the show was just a "modern Candid Camera," Wakan said, he didn't mind the experience as much. He said that it still served as an opportunity for the group to get its message out.
"If you can't take a joke, you're in serious trouble," Wakan said. "You've got to have a sense of humor."
In past episodes of the show, Cohen has interviewed luminaries such as Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich and C. Everett Koop.
Radio rebel Amy Goodman at the Muni
Democracy Now! news anchor Amy Goodman is not your typical radio show host, nor is Democracy Now! a typical news show. Filmmaker Michael Moore calls her "the only daily voice of truth on the radio in the United States of America." Historian Howard Zinn praises her for carrying "the great muckraking tradition of Upton Sinclair into the electronic age, creating a powerful counter to the mainstream media." Goodman proudly notes former President Bill Clinton's description of her as "hostile and combative."
A Harvard graduate with a degree in anthropology, Goodman started her radio career in 1985 at WBAI, a Pacifica Radio affiliate in New York City, before helping to launch Democracy Now! in 1996. Since that time scores radio and television stations have recognized what KMUD Operations Manager Dave Myers sees as "the need for in-depth news programming that challenges the actions of big government and big business."
When the Journal caught up with Goodman, she had just finished the Friday edition of Democracy Now! covering the Democratic National Convention. While the major networks cut back their convention coverage to an hour a night, Goodman had spent the week doing double duty with two-hour versions of what is usually a one-hour show. But she was not about to take a weekend off. Instead she was on her way to Nantucket, Maine, another stop on her national Exception to the Rulers book tour. Saturday, Aug. 21, the tour comes to Eureka for an event cosponsored by KMUD and KHSU.
Journal: What role does Democracy Now! play in the current American news media?
Goodman: We play an absolutely critical role in breaking the sound barrier, breaking the silence. We're the largest public media collaboration in the country. [We're] on 240 radio and TV stations, on Pacifica Radio and, increasingly, on NPR. We're on PBS [TV] now and we are on both satellite TV dish networks, on Channel 9415, which is Free Speech TV and Channel 9410, WorldLink TV. We're on across Canada, across Australia, and we have massive amounts of video and audio streaming. Millions of people access us on our Web site.
NCJ: How is what you offer different from what we get from the rest of the media?
Goodman: Looking back this week, it not only sounded like we were in a different convention center, it was like we were in a different city, a different country, broadcasting from a different galaxy, and yet we were at the same place. What's the difference? You can't tell the difference between any of the other networks, and I'm including Fox. They're babbling from the floor about what someone is wearing or about some hand gesture, or about the stature of some politician.
NCJ: So you see your program as a vehicle to show things we would not see otherwise?
Goodman: I think our role is to bare witness, to go to where the silence is. When we talk about broadcasting the voices of the people, we're not talking about a fringe minority or a silent majority, but the silenced majority -- silenced by the corporate media. I really think that most people in this country, across the political spectrum, are deeply upset right now -- upset about corporate control of our lives, about invasions of privacy, upset about this huge war budget that in fact isn't even going to Iraq, it's mostly going to these mega-corporations with close ties to the Bush administration. This anger is not just bipartisan; it cuts across everyone. And I think we give voice to that. We should not be as unique as we are.
NCJ: Why doesn't the rest of the media talk about the things you talk about?
Goodman: Because they reflect the power elite in Washington. It's not as simple as saying just the [Bush] administration. They reflect the spectrum of debate between the Democrats and the Republicans, which is increasingly narrow; sometimes they don't disagree at all. So in the lead-up to the invasion [of Iraq], the reason why they iced out almost all descent [is that] Democrats agreed with Republicans. Kerry and Edwards voted for the invasion.
And now as [the candidates] try to distinguish themselves a bit, to show there's a difference, that you should vote for one over the other, there's a bit more debate, so the media reflect that. It's not that the media have gotten better or changed their pattern, it's that they're reflecting the current division in the power elite.
We have to include everyone. You know I interviewed Ted Koppel [at the convention]. He said, "It's not our job to give a voice to everyone." I asked if he questioned putting these retired general on the ABC payroll [as war commentators]? "No. We need their expertise." So why not put peace activists on too? "Because that's advocacy they can give us for free," he said. And he said the generals have a range of opinion, and I see his point. The problem is, what's the drumbeat, what's the overall message sent by the military? It's the rare military analyst they put on who has a different opinion. The overall drumbeat, the view that they express, has been pro-war.
NCJ: A lot of what we see, on Fox News for example, seems to be increasingly overt in its bias. Do you think that what you offer on Democracy Now! is any less biased? Or does it just come from a different point of view?
Goodman: No. It's not about the point of view of the reporter. It's about letting us hear, opening up the discussion. You can make your own decision as a listener. Let's hear some of this dissent. The media should be a sanctuary for dissent.
That's why we're going around the country on this Exception to the Rulers Tour. We're holding fundraisers for independent media, television and radio, [and] supporting libraries. The sale of books supports independent bookstores. These are increasingly threatened places where we have access to different views, to minds we have never met before, whole universes of thought -- and we have to protect them, these places where we can go to get information freely.
It's coming at a critical time, feeding off a total frustration and anger at how people feel about being manipulated. Not finding weapons of mass destruction laid bare more than the lies of the Bush administration. It showed us the role the media has played. It laid bare the way the media has acted as a conveyor belt for the lies of the administration.
NCJ: You spoke with Spike Lee at the convention. He said he thinks that Michael Moore's film, Fahrenheit 9-11, may turn the tide in the election. Do you think Democracy Now! has that same sort of power?
Goodman: I think so. I think getting information is extremely empowering. It's as simple as that. People make up their own minds, but they have to have a way to get the information. And the fact that the media has beat the single drum for war, acting as a megaphone for those in power, it's turning people away from it. It doesn't matter how many channels. They're all doing the same thing. And people are sick and tired of being fed stuff that has proven not to be true.
NCJ: You asked Spike Lee what he thinks are "the gravest issues facing us." How would you answer?
Goodman: I think we have to reclaim the media, because the media has become the most powerful force on Earth. I really believe it is the most powerful weapon the Pentagon has deployed. We have to un-embed it. We have to recognize that militarism and media monopoly go hand in hand, and we have to break that relationship.
The reason the media are so powerful is, yeah, they're among the wealthiest corporations. But they are also the way we come to learn about each other, and the way the rest of the world learns about us. And right now those things are being projected though a corporate lens. We need to change that and I think it is slowly happening.
There is a growing independent media movement in this country. People are getting information in different ways. Democracy Now! is part of that, providing a forum for people and giving access to all kind of groups that are doing things. We are just following the principles of good journalism, going to where the story is, interviewing the people closest to the story, and bringing those voices out instead of relying on this small circle of pundits who know so little about so much.
KHSU and KMUD present Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, and author of The Exception to the Rulers, on Saturday, August 21, at the Eureka Municipal Auditorium, 1120 F St. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with food and drink available before the program begins at 6:30. The jazz combo Humboldt Time performs following Goodman's talk. Tickets are $15, $12 in advance, proceeds benefit KMUD and KHSU. Call 923-2513 or 826-3928 for further details or see khsu.org.
Democracy Now! can be heard weekdays at 9 a.m. on KHSU-FM 90.5, at noon on KMUD-FM 91.1 Redway, KMUE-FM 88.3, Eureka and Mondays at 1 p.m. on KIDE-FM 91.3 Hoopa. HCTV Channel 12 broadcasts the show on Free Speech TV at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
© Copyright 2004, North Coast Journal, Inc.