- Butte Outage
- Earthquake Prep
- Ukiah Art
- Hurtado Parole
- Fay Wray
- Planning & Building
- Marijuana Revenue
- SF Intersection
- Ukiah Utilities
- Noyo Welder
- Dyslexic Bra
- Elderhome Fundraiser
- Yesterday's Catch
- Bernie's Heart
- Needs Gun
- Bela Lugosi
- Zappa Inhaled
- Private Hendrix
- Seed Saving
- Public Education
- Rogue Superpower
- Corruption Monthly
- Newspaper Looting
- Found Object
BUTTE COUNTY GETS IT AGAIN
PG&E instituted another power shutoff at 10pm last night (October 5) affecting approximately 10,000 customers in Butte County.
WILL MENDO DODGE THE NEXT SHUTOFF?
Latest From PG&E On 'Power Shut Offs'
Heads Up - ‘Elevated’ Chance Of Shutoffs
MSP will run this feature daily during fire season of the PG&E "projection" of possible/potential "Public Safety Power Shutdowns" (PSPS). PG&E, however, may announce a PSPS with only a 24 or 48-hour notice.
PG&E said, “Meteorology continues to monitor the potential for light to moderate offshore flow to develop overnight Saturday night into Sunday.” PG&E reportedly has 2,334 miles of power lines in Mendocino County.
Here’s the forecast published Saturday by an operational meteorologist from PG&E’s Meteorology and Analytics team: “Weather forecast models continue to indicate light to moderate northeast winds will develop overnight tonight and into tomorrow morning across portions of the Northern Sierra and North Bay hills.
The combination of dry fuels and locally gusty conditions has led the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag Warning for North Bay hills above 1000’ from 8:00 pm tonight through 10:00 am tomorrow morning and a Red Flag Warning for the Sacramento Valley and adjacent foothills from 1:00 pm today through 5:00 pm tomorrow.
An updated PSPS potential forecast still indicates a PSPS Watch for northern areas of Zone 5 tonight and through Sunday morning with the main period of risk occurring late tonight and early Sunday morning. Northern areas of zones 3 and 4 (portions of Napa, Lake, and Sonoma Counties) are also showing a PSPS Elevated state for Sunday; the PG&E emergency operations center is activated to monitor the event and execute PSPS if conditions warrant.
The forecast also shows elevated PSPS potential for zones 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8 as a more widespread second event is possible around Wednesday and into Thursday next week. Please note that PSPS decisions are made at a more granular level; thus, only a portion of a zone may experience a PSPS event if warranted.
DETAILS: High pressure will continue to build into the territory today resulting in further warming and some breezy north winds across the Sacramento Valley under 25 mph. Fair, dry and even warmer weather will continue tomorrow and Monday with temperatures generally above-normal under the light to moderate offshore flow.
Locally breezy to gusty northeast wind gusts up to 35-40 mph are then expected late tonight or early tomorrow across portions of the northern Sierra with wind gusts up to 25- 30 mph in the elevated North Bay terrain tomorrow morning. Winds will decrease to under 25 mph by Sunday afternoon in all areas, but will remain light offshore through Monday. Slightly cooler weather is then expected Tuesday and into Wednesday from a passing low pressure system with high pressure rebuilding quickly around the middle part of next week.
Widespread locally gusty north or northeast winds are then possible by Wednesday afternoon and through Thursday across central and northern California; details are still unclear and will be closely monitored moving forward. Continued fair weather with lighter winds is then expected by Friday next week.
While the recent stretch of cooler weather and higher humidity has allowed dead fuel moistures to increase across the northern Sierra, fuel moisture values in the shrubs/brush class in low- to mid-elevations remains near to below critical values.”
NOTE: “This forecast is based on weather conditions and fuel moisture content only and does not include other criteria used to determine whether a PSPS may be necessary.”
GET READY! An on-line comment:
Remember, a 3.5 quake isn't really even a keeper. But what should keep all of us on alert is the fact that even a 3.5 can be a precursor to a larger, potentially more destructive event, so while there is nothing to become concerned about with a single event like this one - 3.5 off Colma - we SHOULD be concerned with being prepared. If you have not yet done so, go get CERT training. Build go-bags for every member of the family and for your pets. Create a plan in the event of separation during an emergency. Build a family emergency supply - at least 2 weeks of food and water for every member of the family (Talk to the folks at Caspar about how they developed their pickle barrel kits). You cannot predict when a really bad event will happen, but you can get prepared for one. Do it today, stop putting it off!
PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION
From Friday night’s First Friday: various artists work on display at The Corner Gallery in downtown Ukiah (click to enlarge).
ANOTHER ONE ROUNDED UP
On September 30, 2019 at approximately 9:50 AM, a Deputy from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to contact a concerned parent.
The parent advised that she had discovered her 13 year-old daughter was Facebook friends with a 29 year-old male, who was believed to be a sex registrant pursuant to penal code section 290. The parent also advised that her daughter and the 29 year-old male had been messaging each other via Facebook Messenger.
The Deputy initiated an investigation and identified the 29 year-old male as being Brian Hurtado.
Hurtado was found to be an active sex registrant, and was also on active Parole through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, after having served a prison sentence for a previous conviction of Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a child under 14 years old.
The Deputy contacted Hurtado’s Parole Officer and learned that Hurtado had specific parole terms that he have no contact with minors in any form, and that he shall not use or access any social media sites.
On October 4, 2019, the Deputy responded to Hurtado’s residence. The Deputy contacted Hurtado and conducted further investigations regarding this case.
Hurtado was found to have additional parole terms that he shall consent to unannounced examination and/or search of electronic devices to which he has access, for the limited purpose of detecting content prohibited by the terms of his parole. One item of content which Hurtado was specifically prohibited from, was accessing and/or viewing pornography.
Upon examination of Hurtado’s cellular phone, the Deputy was able to determine Hurtado had violated numerous terms of his parole, by communicating with the minor, accessing social media sites, and viewing pornography.
Hurtado’s Parole Officer was contacted, who authorized a Parole hold.
Hurtado was subsequently placed under arrest and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held on a no bail status.
ORIGINAL SCREAM QUEEN FAY WRAY in a publicity photo for the 1933 pre-Code horror film “King Kong.”
WE WERE FLAT WRONG in our prediction that Friday’s appearance of Supervisor Ted Williams and Planning Director Brent Schultz on KZYX would be dominated by pot. But that may have been because they didn’t take any calls at all. Instead, they spent most of the hour dealing with softballs from the show’s host about the local housing shortage. At one point, Williams asked Schultz how many new home permits have been issued this year compared to “the need.” (Something Schultz should be providing to the Supervisors monthly, of course, but not in Mendo.) Schultz said they’d issued a few dozen. Asked why so few, Schultz answered “It’s very hard” because of the state’s increasingly complicated and rigid building rules, and “costs have gone up.” In fact, those were the answers to almost every generic housing question.
WILLIAMS AND SCHULTZ also talked in general terms about the wonderfulness of accessory dwelling units. Local officials inevitably trot granny and her imagined units out as a “solution” to the housing shortage as housing scarcity continues to grow. Planning and Building's failed attempts to “simplify” or “streamline” the permit process remain invisible. Having gone through that process a few years ago, I'm here to tell you, from first hand experience with P&B how arbitrary and drop-fall stupid the process is.
CONSPICUOUSLY not raised, of course, was the subject of trailer parks, the only short-term low-cost option for housing for many Mendolanders. But trailer parks don’t quite fit the Schultzian Planning and Building model. Instead, Schultz said he was working on the latest iteration of the General Plan’s Housing Element, but made no mention of why the last housing element was a complete flop — so much so that a local legal aid attorney successfully sued the County to require them to be more realistic in their “housing element” — and why this one probably will have the same problem. (Hint: they couldn’t find any non-city areas to zone for housing because there were none with adequate water or sewer. The lawsuit simply pointed out that the few acres Mendo said they’d zone for housing had were either not for sale or had already been determined to be unsuitable for housing.)
THERE was also no mention of the status of Ukiah’s Lovers Lane, project just north of Ukiah on County-zoned property. Whatever its drawbacks and limitations, the Chico developer went to lots of trouble and expense to file his 200-unit development permit application and should at least be getting a fair hearing and reasonable processing — but is not. Nobody ever brings that project up either. Nobody asks what the hold-up is or what can be done to address it. No matter — the discussion's host, Bob Bushansky, gushed his appreciation for his guests even coming on the air and saying nothing of consequence while he accepted either “nothing can be done/it’s too hard” or other bland non-answers to his softball questions.
SPEAKING OF PLANNING…
We recently received a copy of a letter sent to the Planning Department on October 1, 2019 by a Ukiah pot permit processing consultant named Shannon Wells, “Environmental Analyist, Jacobszoon & Associates, Inc.” Ms. Wells is apparently trying help Mr. John Mark of Yorkville navigate the county’s pot permit maze.
Ms. Wells writes: “The parcel is not required to have an SIUR [Small Irrigation Use Registration] on file as there is no surface water diversion for cannabis cultivation on site. The cannabis is irrigated using a groundwater well.”
As proof, Ms. Wells includes a copy of a “Well Completion Report” for the well on Mr. Mark’s property which in turn came from an outfit called Countervail Inc., in Ukiah, a “tax and legal compliance business” which Mr. Mark had also contracted with for permit processing assistance.
The two letters from the two Ukiah consultants were provided to the Planning Department by Mr. Mark along with Mr. Mark’s note to Mendo’s Pot Permit Coordinator Sean Connell:
“Sean, It seems that you denied my cultivation license for a Small Irrigation Use Registration that not only I don't have but the state doesn't require me to have. My engineering company has enclosed their letter and copy from the state of my well registration. All the forms I've filed with the AG Dept., the Water Board, CDFW. All of them know I do not divert water — I use the listed well. So the question is: how am I denied my license for something I don't need? Very frustrating, John Mark, Yorkville”
Mr. Mark’s note to Mr. Connell was prepared after consultant Wells suggested that Mr. Mark try sending the docs to the County himself:
Ms. Wells wrote: “John [Mark], Below is a list of things you should put together for the county to show you don't need an SIUR: Notice of receipt for your water board enrollment. When you did this on those computers where they helped you, it should have emailed you a receipt. Well Report (I'm including it here just in case you don't have an easy copy). And I'm also including a letter as requested. I have no problem meeting at the county for you, it's just weird that they are requiring you to go further than showing your enrollment in the water board, and I don't want anyone ever paying for something they shouldn't have to.”
Mark Scaramella notes:
This is a perfect example of the kind of rabbit hole a well-meaning and reasonably competent pot permit applicant enters when trying to obtain a legal pot cultivation permit.
From this simple exchange we not only discover that Mr. Mark is being required to provide some paperwork he doesn’t need, but also that:
Pot cultivators are required to have a Small Irrigation Use Registration if they use any ground water at all (grape growers are not);
That the applicant must prove they don’t need something when they don’t need something;
That applicants have to hire costly permit processing experts to handle the complicated pot permit process;
That applicants have to have special well permits which are required of pot growers, but not grape growers or anyone else;
That even with all the consultants, applicants still have bureaucratic problems that they have to deal with themselves, all the while they cannot grow pot and cannot generate any revenue to cover all the processing costs, much less the County taxes and fees;
That they must somehow maintain extensive and precise records of every relevant document (computer and hard copy) because they will need it when the inevitable glitch occurs, and if they don’t they’re screwed;
And, that as far as the County is concerned, this application — like who knows how many others — is being held up because the applicant — not the County, not the State — has somehow failed to provide something he or she is not required to have.
Multiply this by the nearly 1200 pot permit applications the County has received so far.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
None of this decriminalization jazz is about making life easier for marijuana enthusiasts or growers. It's all about providing a tax revenue stream that politicians can rely upon and which relieves them of the fear of having to repeal Prop 13 or otherwise discomfit the California Landed Aristocracy. I wonder what that old crook Howard Jarvis would say were he to find out that his efforts led to decriminalization of the debbil's weed.
A UKIAH FRIEND'S city water and other city-provided amenities are now $460 a month for a two-person household, having doubled over the past year.
NEW WELDER IN FORT BRAGG
ATTENTION! There’s a new welder in town! After 9 years of furthering my skills, earning an AS degree in welding technology, multiple structural steel certifications, becoming a Forman and running a crew at http://www.upperstorydesign.com
I have moved back to the town I was born and raised, Fort Bragg. Feel free to swing on by if you have anything steel/welding related from railings on your house to shock hoops on your truck to canopies on a boat or if you have an idea to make a one of a kind object you can’t buy off a shelf!
Stop by 32400 N Harbor Drive and support a local business. Or call 813-4593.
A dyslexic walks into a bra.
BOONVILLE ELDERHOME FUNDRAISER
Please join the AVEH Board and other Elder Home supporters at the Boonville Hotel on Sunday, November 10, 2019, to enjoy a sumptuous multi-course dinner paired with Anderson Valley’s finest wines. Proceeds from the dinner, $150 per person, will help complete the parking and sidewalks of the new Cottage 1. Attendees can buy tickets singly or can “buy a table” by inviting like-minded friends to join them and us for a fine meal for a good cause. To reserve your place or for more information contact Brian at 510.388.9103 or Scarlet at 707.360.7730 (text or voice). You may also send us an email at AVEH@pacific.net.
CATCH OF THE DAY, OCTOBER 5, 2019
TIFFANY BELL, Ukiah. DUI.
MARTHA CRUZ-SANTIAGO, Santa Rosa/Hopland. DUI, child endangerment, suspended license (for DUI).
JOSEPH DEDMAN, Ukiah. Failure to appear.
HEATHER HENNIGAN, Ukiah. Under influence, controlled substance, disobeying court order.
BRIAN HURTADO, Willits. Parole violation.
JUAN LOPEZ, Willits. DUI, county parole violation, suspended license (for DUI).
STEVEN MAROS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
WILLIAM POWELL II, Ukiah. Refuse disposal in state waters, controlled substance, probation revocation.
DAVID SIFUENTES-GONZALEZ, Covelo. Assault weapon.
MIGUEL SIMON-CRUZ, Ukiah. Disobeying court order, prior convictions for wet reckless driving.
BERNIE’S HEART. AND OURS.
by Norman Solomon
Along with being where all blood goes, the heart is an enduring metaphor. As Bernie Sanders recovers from a heart attack, now might be a good time to consider some literal and symbolic meanings.
Bernie immediately used his heart trouble to advance a central mission. From the hospital, he tweeted: “I’m fortunate to have good health care and great doctors and nurses helping me to recover. None of us know when a medical emergency might affect us. And no one should fear going bankrupt if it occurs. Medicare for All!”
That’s the kind of being “on message” we so badly need. It’s fully consistent with Bernie’s campaign and his public life. (“Not me. Us.”) He has never been a glad-hander or much of a showman. He’s always been much more interested in ending people’s pain than proclaiming that he feels it.
About 10 years ago, I was lucky enough to dialogue with Bernie during an “in conversation with” event in San Francisco, where several hundred people filled the room. Before we went on stage, there was a gathering in a makeshift green room that raised a small amount of money for his senatorial campaign coffers. “I’ve never been good at raising money,” he told me.
I thought about that comment when the news broke a few days ago that the Bernie 2020 campaign raised a whopping $25.3 million during the last quarter, with donations averaging just $18. Bernie never went after money. It went after him; from the grassroots.
From the middle of this decade onward, as the popularity of Bernie and his political agenda has grown, so has the hostility from corporate media. The actual Bernie campaign is in sharp contrast with cable TV coverage as well as press narratives.
The campaign looks set to fully resume soon. When Bernie left the hospital on Friday, NBC News quoted the chief of cardiology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Ehtisham Mahmud, who said that the three-day length of hospitalization indicates the senator “probably had a small heart attack” — and “they require really a very short recovery time."
So, from all indications, Bernie will soon be back on the campaign trail — once again hammering on grim realities that are evaded or excused by the political and media establishment, like the fact that just three individuals (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates) have as much wealth as the bottom half of the entire U.S. population.
Last month, in an interview about his proposal to greatly increase taxes on the extremely rich, Bernie said: “What we are trying to do is demand and implement a policy which significantly reduces income and wealth inequality in America by telling the wealthiest families in this country they cannot have so much wealth.” Such concentrations of wealth — and the political power that goes with it — are antithetical to genuine democracy.
For his entire adult life, Bernie Sanders has been part of social movements intent on challenging such profit-mad industries as corporate health care, financial services, mass incarceration and the military-industrial complex that cause so much opulence for the few and so much suffering for the many. The enormous inequalities of wealth and power are systemic and ruthless — with devastating effects on vast numbers of people.
That’s where the heart as metaphor is apt. Bernie has a huge and eternally healthy heart, filled with the lifeblood of empathy and dedication. In essence, that’s what the Bernie 2020 campaign is all about. As he has been the first to say, it’s not about him, it’s about us. How much compassion and commitment can we find in our hearts?
(Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched independent Bernie Delegates Network. Solomon is the author of a dozen books including "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.")
I WENT DOWN to Washington DC for an anti-gun event at the Obama White House a few years ago. Now, I'm not big anti-gun, but I think there should at least be some regulations just in case. The same way I can't drive a NASCAR down the street, I shouldn't be able to have a machine gun in my house across the street from a school. Right? So I go to this event and it’s me and a bunch of other celebrities. We spoke out against guns and for regulations and stuff. I came home and checked my website. There were all these threats: "I'm going to kill you!" "I'm going to put one in your head!" "I'm going to slit your throat!" "Don't you dare come between me and my weapon!" Then I realized: Oh my God — I need a gun!
— Chris Rock
A YOUNG AND DAPPER Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó, better known as Bela Lugosi, depicted in the 1910s or early 1920s. Although he played a wide variety of roles on the stage, it was his role in the 1920s stage production of Dracula that led to Universal making the film of the same name in 1931, and to Lugosi securing the title role. Lugosi left his native Hungary in 1920 when he was put in danger for his role in forming the first film actors union in the world, Hungary's National Trade Union of Actors.
Playboy: Were you tempted by drugs?
Frank Zappa: All you'd have to do was look at the people who used them and that was enough. People would do frightening things and think it was fantastic. Then they would discuss it endlessly with the next guy, who had taken the same drug. I tried marijuana and waited for something to happen. I got a sore throat and it made me sleepy. I'd look at them and go, "Why?" I'm not going to be Bill Clinton and say I never inhaled. I did inhale. I couldn't understand what the big attraction was. I liked tobacco a lot better.
Playboy: Were you involved in other aspects of the counterculture?
Frank Zappa: In order to be a part of it, you had to buy into the whole drug package. You had to have been experienced, in the Jimi Hendrix sense of the word. And all the people I knew who had been experienced were on the cusp of being zombies.
Playboy: Was it disconcerting that your audiences were high much of the time?
Frank Zappa: The worst part of it for me was that I really didn't like the smell of marijuana. I had to go into a place that had the purple haze and work for a couple of hours in that. They were entitled to do whatever they wanted, so long as they didn't drive into me under the influence of it.
Playboy: But you told people drugs were stupid, before Nancy Reagan did.
Frank Zappa: One of the reasons we weren't rabidly popular at that time was that I said what was on my mind about drugs.
Playboy: Did you feel like an outsider? It's safe to say that every other major rock star in those days was doing drugs.
Frank Zappa: Looped. It wasn't just the other musicians but the people in the band. The guys in the band who wished they could do drugs couldn't because it meant unemployment. I was unpopular for it. As for the rock stars, if you've met them, you know that they generally have very little on their minds. I never had any great desire to hang out with them.
MILITARY DISCIPLINARY REPORT ON PVT. HENDRIX
FALL SEED CLEANING WORKSHOP AT THE UKIAH LIBRARY
On Saturday, October 26th from 1:30am to 3:30pm the Ukiah Library is hosting a Fall Seed Cleaning a Hands-On Workshop.
Learn how to clean, dry, and store vegetable seeds from your garden. Find out how to save both wet-seeded and dry-seeded crops like tomatoes and beans. This will be a hands-on class, with opportunities to learn how to clean, winnow and sift seeds. If you have seeds ready to clean, bring them along and we'll do it together.
This event is for ages 10 to adult, free to the public and sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library and the Mendocino County Library. For information, please contact the Ukiah Library at 707-463-4490 or email email@example.com
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE the power of the United States’ American exceptionalist and imperial doctrine. Look at the recent Washington Post revelation regarding wannabe fascist strongman Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Lavrov in the White House in 2017. Trump told Lavrov and another high-ranking Russian official that he wasn’t concerned about Russia meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States does the same thing in other countries.
The revelation came days after the world learned that Trump used the threat to withhold U.S. military assistance to bully Ukraine’s president into helping the Trump 2020 campaign find dirt on Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden. It was in fact sparked by UkraineGate since the Ukraine scandal brought attention to how the White House has been hiding transcripts of Trump’s degenerate discussions with foreign leaders.
Notice which part of the Trump-Lavrov story became an instant media-politics bombshell and which part did not. The media and the Democrats naturally seized on Trump’s stated indifference toward Russian interference in the United States’ so-called democracy. The other (and accurate) thing that Trump told Lavrov – that the U.S. habitually messes with elections and politics in other countries – just as naturally did not garner attention. It is a complete non-story.
There’s much more to say than “we meddle too,” of course. Washington has conducted and abetted coups, undertaken regime change wars, tortured, trained torturers, carpet-bombed, defoliated, raped, massacred, collapsed societies, funded dictatorships, armed death squads, undermined governments, launched terrorist attacks, assassinated, invaded other nations and broadly violated international and human rights law across the world for seven-plus decades. Many millions have died because of this rogue superpower behavior.
Still, it is a remarkable thing for the public to learn that a U.S. president almost off-handedly told some top Russian officials visiting the White House that “Hey, the U.S. interferes around the world all the time.”
WALL STREET IS KILLING LOCAL NEWSPAPERS
by Olivia Snow Smith
Though lacking the size and prestige of The New York Times or The Washington Post, The Storm Lake Times is arguably just as important.
Two years ago, the small, bi-weekly Iowa paper (circulation: 3,000) won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for taking on agricultural water pollution in the state. If it weren’t for vibrant local papers, stories like these might never come to light.
Unfortunately, all over the country, private equity and hedge funds have been scooping up these cash-strapped papers — and looting them into irrelevance or bankruptcy.
Here’s how it works.
Investors put down a fraction of the purchase price and borrow the rest — and then saddle the company with that debt. Layoffs and cutbacks follow, which leads to a shabbier product. Circulation and revenue decline, then more cuts, and the cycle accelerates.
Eventually the paper is a shadow of its former self, or turned to ashes completely. Wall Street wins; the public loses.
Perhaps the most infamous recent example was the breakdown of the 127-year-old Denver Post. Since private equity firm Alden Global acquired the paper, it has cut two out of every three staff positions — twice the industry rate for downsizing.
To add insult to injury, the firm has been using staff pension funds as its own personal piggy bank. In total, they’ve moved nearly $250 million into investment accounts in the Cayman Islands.
Employees who remain grapple with censorship. Last April, Dave Krieger — editorial page editor of Alden’s Boulder Daily Camera — was fired after self-publishing an opinion piece headlined “Private Equity Owners Endanger Daily Camera’s Future.”
In solidarity, Denver Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett resigned, complaining that his publishers were also censoring stories that might offend Alden.
Alden’s Digital First Media runs many other big papers [and the Ukiah Daily Journal, Willits News, Fort Bragg/Mendocino Advocate/Beacon, Eureka Times-Standard, locally], putting hundreds of newsroom staff at risk of censorship and layoffs. Millions of readers, in turn, may learn only what Alden deems fit for them.
It’s not a new pattern. In 2008, a year after billionaire Sam Zell bought the Tribune Co. — publisher of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and other venerable publications — the company filed for bankruptcy, saddled with $13 billion in debt in what’s been called “the deal from hell.”
After it emerged from bankruptcy, the company was left in the hands of — you guessed it — private equity.
The march of these buyout barons continues. This summer, New Media Investment Group (owner of GateHouse Media) announced plans to buy Gannett. The $1.38 billion deal would unite one-sixth of all daily newspapers across the country, affecting nine million print readers.
New Media anticipates cutting $300 million in costs each year, suggesting layoffs comparable to those at The Denver Post are in the offing — even as the company and its investor owners harvest profits.
This is a crisis. This country lost more than a fifth of its local newspapers between 2004 and 2018, while newspapers lost almost half of their newsroom employees between 2008 and 2018.
A few lawmakers are catching on.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) recently introduced the Stop Wall Street Looting Act to curb these abuses, with Warren specifically calling out private equity firms for decimating local newspapers.
Senator Bernie Sanders recently introduced an ambitious plan of his own, calling for a moratorium on major media mergers and encouraging newsrooms to unionize nationwide.
Newspapers have been critical to American democracy since its founding. By allowing huge corporations to gut newspapers in the name of making a buck, we’re putting a price tag on that democracy when we need it most.
(Olivia Snow Smith is a recent graduate of Bard College and the communications intern for Take On Wall Street. This op-ed was adapted from TakeOnWallSt.com and distributed by OtherWords.org. Courtesy, CounterPunch.org.)