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Letters (Oct 1, 2014)

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Why I Won't Be Attending The Birthday Bash

I won't be attending the Mendocino County Public Broadcasting (MCPB) Birthday Bash on Saturday, October 11, for two reasons.

First, I wasn't invited. Although I'm a Board member, and although I've hosted a biweekly show for six and a half years as a volunteer (about 150 shows), I wasn't invited.

Second, there's nothing to celebrate. Like many purged programmers, I feel that staff, especially Coate and Aigner, have a "bunker mentality" that has led to purges of critics and others who spoke their minds. The harm is irreparable.

These purges, of course, have created an upwelling of animosity that will prove to be the station's undoing unless staff, especially Coate and Aigner, are terminated and replaced -- replaced, hopefully, by more more capable public radio professions, who have no history with, or ties to, the station.

In recently reviewing my own purge from the station with someone at the FCC, I noted that Coate will almost certainly claim I was ousted because I uttered the f-word on-air back in June.

I made a few points to the FCC to refute Coate's trumped up claim.

One, I was not on the engineering board when the word was uttered. Aigner told me to step aside. She was at the board trying to get my guest back on the line (the call dropped four times). I was physically standing a couple of feet behind Aigner. Aigner failed to pot down the mic.

Two, the utterance was ambient sound. Ambient. Again, I was not at the engineering board. I was standing 3-4 feet from the mic.

Three, no listener complained to the station following my show. Complaints? No. A confabulation by Aigner and Coate? Yes.

Four,  the station's seven-second delay -- intended to prevent obscenity violations and promised by Coate a year ago -- is, as of this time, still non-existent. It's been a full year, Doug, since you were purged for a similar trumped up obscenity violation.

For the above four reasons, I will not sign the declaration Coate demanded that I sign taking "full responsibility for the incident" as a condition for having my suspension lifted.

Be that as it may, the f-word incident is not the only reason I remain indefinitely suspended.

Coate's new demand is that I sign a letter that he drafted retracting my FCC complaint. It's a letter that Coate stated he will send to The Ukiah Daily Journal and The Anderson Valley Advertiser. He further stated he may use the letter for any other purpose.

The coerced letter, of course, is tantamount to a public humiliation. My lawyer says that Coate's demand constitutes extreme and outrageous conduct intended to cause severe emotional distress. Consequently, I have suffered severe injuries as a direct and proximate result.

In strictly legal terms, the complaint against Coate will be for "The Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress".

My lawsuit, if it's filed, will be supported by facts and evidence, which will include the purges and humiliations suffered by others, such as Doug McKenty, Norman De Vall, Sheila Dawn Tracy, and Johanna Schultz. My lawyer will demonstrate a history of abuses at the station.

Another thing.

The lawsuit , if it's filed, will also name the Board as a co-defendant for failing to use reasonable care to prevent the negligent and grossly negligent acts i.e., the purges, the violations of free speech and other rights, the violations of due process, the public humiliations, etc., from occurring.

Coate's sweeping general manager/executive director powers notwithstanding, the Board has a duty to supervise Coate.

In strictly legal terms, the complaint against the Board of Directors will be for "Negligence".

Our causes of action will be the following: The Board has failed to adequately monitor Coate, failed to institute and implement policies for the protection of volunteers, failed to report abuses to the FCC and the CPB, allowed Coate to tamper or destroy evidence, and allowed Coate to threaten victims and witnesses to deter complaints.

Our lawsuit will further allege that the Board's decision not to supervise Coate reflects that the reputation of Coate and the MCPB, and the desire to avoid scandal, were vastly superior and more important to the Board than the welfare of the plaintiff and other victims who had been abused by Coate, and this fostered an environment and culture where abuse of could flourish and in which it was clearly understood that there was no accountability for such abuses toward volunteers.

What my lawyer and I have not yet decided is whether or not we will allege that there was a conspiracy between Coate and the Board to cover up the abuses. The fact that the Board did not insist on an investigation of the splitting incidence involving a volunteer, M. Kathryn Massey, and a member of staff, Rich Culbertson, is deeply disturbing. There is videotape evidence from May's Board meeting in Willits of Board member, Jane Futcher, clearly protesting an investigation of Culbertson. The rest of the Board, lead by Board Chair Eliane Herring, acquiesced to Futcher's protest.

My lawyer has suggested that Ms. Massey be a co plaintiff. Others, such as Doug McKenty, may wish to be co-plaintiffs, if that is the advice of our attorney.

Some other features of the lawsuit.

My lawyer has a discovery control plan. We intend to conduct discovery under the California's Title 4 (Sections 2016-2036) of the Code of Civil Procedure, and be controlled by a scheduling order to be agreed upon by the parties. A few surprises may be store.

The Mendocino County Superior Court has jurisdiction over this action, because the facts giving rise to this action occurred in whole or in part within Mendocino County, and the damages sought by plaintiff are well in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits of this Court.

Finally, punitive damages will apply. My lawyer said he could write a book about why punitive damages apply in our case.

The statute of limitations doesn't run out for two years on personal jury in California; two years also for breach of oral contract, and four years for written contract -- so we're in good shape there.

My next move? Have my lawyer prepare a demand letter. Then, have my lawyer finalize the complaint, including petition for jury trial and request for disclosure.

Because I don't want to "destroy" the station, I'll first write to the Board with a demand letter of my own before I file. Basically, I'll demand to have my suspension lifted and to return to the air. I'll give the Board every opportunity to do the right thing.

If I don't get an adequate response, my lawyer will send a demand letter. It will include further demands. The Board won't be happy. It will cost them. If the lawyer's demand letter doesn't get a response, we file.

I'm doing all this for the benefit of MCPB, not to harm MCPB.

Bottom line? MCPN needs reform. It's the Board's decision if they want to fight, if they want to spend a lot of dough defending themselves, if they want to bankrupt the station, and if they want to hold the station up to further public ridicule.

Mendocino County deserves a truly public radio station, not a private clubhouse run by a few insiders for their own benefit. True public radio. True community. Now that would be something to celebrate!

John Sakowicz


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There are many points I'd like to respond to in John Sakowicz's most recent assault on KZYX, but let me correct two points he makes that are absolutely wrong:

1) The KZYX birthday party is NOT a fundraiser. Admission is $5. We kept the admission low to be sure everyone who wanted to come was able to afford a ticket. Food and microbrews are extra, but we will be lucky to break even on the event because of the costs involved.

2) Meg Courtney and I, as KZYX board members, are spearheading and organizing the event. We both felt deeply that this station milestone was too important for our community not to celebrate. The event is far from an “ego trip” for John Coate and Mary Aigner. The focus of everyone involved in putting on the event is making the 25th birthday a fantastic party that honors everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, who has been a programmer, staff, board member, volunteer, donor, listener or member over the years.

We hope everyone who cares about the station will join us at the Boonville Fairgrounds October 11 to celebrate the station's remarkable creation and survival, through thick and thin, for 25 years.


Jane Futcher


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On a sunny Casper September Sunday about 80 mostly oldsters came out to support the 400,000 climate concerned New York protesters. Many were motivated by Obama's plunge into the Iraq-Syrian endless war.

We felt the ghost of Barbara Champion's Gray Panther presence. Among the living was the demonstration's sparkplug, Sandra Fast-Pac, along with the powerful Sheila Dawn who should be hired by KZWX [sic]. This woman really cares about public radio. One woman, at 75 years old, held a "Love My Mother Earth" sign along the east side of Highway 1 in Casper. We were where we belong.

It was good to see John Fremont recovering well from a serious operation. Always refreshing — the positive presence of our Lynda Ross, Sandy Berrigan, Bill Heil, Linda Perkins, Betty Goldfarb and the old and not so old heroes and sheroes of yesterday and today.

Alan 'Captain Fathom' Graham


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What's up with the guy the County hired to replace Tom Croak as local public defender in Fort Bragg? They hired this retired cop from Palmdale in Los Angeles County, but now rumor has it he's gone. Maybe now some of our underemployed local attorneys can get some consideration.


Sue Sponte

Fort Bragg

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Oh, what the hell? Why not throw another year the Garberville Library's way?

You can just list it as an anonymous donation. Who knows, with all the trimmers and wannabes flooding the Garberville Library this time of year you might get a new subscription or two.

Paul Modic


PPS. The Giants: This is all they deserve — one tense wild-card game (we hope!) And then we will see. You never f-ing know though.

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I enjoy your paper and hope I will continue to get it.

I've never made excuses for the crimes I was convicted of, but as I come to realize as I sit here that I will never get out of prison alive, I have to wonder: Does the punishment really fit the crime?

I've never harmed a child, never beaten or raped a woman; I've never taken anyone's life, no one was hurt physically in any of my strikable cases. I guess in California it's called Justice.

I will be back for a new trial, juror misconduct is a violation of my constitutional rights, i.e., sleeping two days in a row. Hopefully justice will prevail. I am not asking to go free. I believe in crime and punishment. I just ask for a fair and impartial sentence. 183 years to life? For what?

Thank you,

Walter Miller


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I was delighted to see a couple of recent letters to the editor written by Richard Shoemaker and well known local architect Bob Axt, pointing out the imminent threat to life and limb that is posed by the decrepit hulk of the old Palace Hotel. As I have observed in previous letters on the subject, the unreinforced brick structure, looming several stories over the public sidewalk, is likely to collapse like a house of cards in any significant seismic event, a potential catastrophe the likelihood of which was recently underscored by the serious temblor in Napa, which did so much damage there.

Just as I had predicted in a letter shortly after the City Council handed down its set of deadlines to the Palace’s owner, Ms. Laines, of course she did not meet any of them. It has been self-evident for years that the rebuilding of the Palace in its present form is simply WAY outside of the realm of economic feasibility; whether the project is headed by the hapless Ms. Laines or anyone else, such as a publicly appointed receiver, there is simply no conceivable enterprise that could take place there (other than, say, the new courthouse or some other money-is-no-object public project) that could pay the note on even half of the cost of its restoration. Why, oh why, does the City Council refuse to acknowledge this obvious fact? How many years of foot dragging and “dog ate my homework”-type excuses will it take before the Council realizes that sooner or later it is going to have to hug this tar baby of a project; it’s easy to understand why the city Council prefers to engage in wishful thinking with regard to this matter, as the Palace, by the time it is properly dismantled, is strictly a liability, rather than an asset.

Make no mistake though; eventually this disaster waiting to happen MUST be torn down. I suppose that if the Council is able to cajole the clueless owner of the structure into purging it of its asbestos content before it falls into public ownership, bravo; it will save the taxpayers the cost of that part of the eventual demolition, but it will simply be more rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic. We will have to wait and see how long the city Council’s patience will last with the owner’s perpetual tardiness.

It’s not as if the building is some kind of architectural treasure; just look at the beautiful bases of the cast-iron columns visible through holes in the front wall. Some brilliant remodeling designer, sometime during the building’s history, came up with the idea of burying those beautiful pieces of artwork behind a completely nondescript wall. Sure hope I can buy them from whoever eventually tears the building down; they are the nicest thing about the whole building, finally visible, if only a small part, because there are gaping holes in the front wall.

The city Council, in its wisdom, has seen fit to eliminate a number of prime downtown parking spaces to make room for sidewalk dining; the footprint of the Palace could provide much-needed parking for the downtown, until such time as someone with the resources and a realistic plan for a ‘higher and better’ use for the property comes along. Right now all the building does is drag down the nearby property values and make our whole town look crumbling and crummy.


John Arteaga


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Dear Editor:

As we start bombing in Syria and continue bombing in Iraq in trying to sort out the good guys and bad guys I am reminded of the comedy skit by Abbott and Costello, "Who's On First?

Assad is a bad guy but when his planes bomb ISIL does he become a good guy? The Christians in Mosul are good guys but are the Christian militias that fight with Assad and Hezbollah bad guys? We didn't provide aid to the Syrian Kurds because they apparently cut a deal with Assad about their lands and are part of the PKK — bad guys? But now that they are attacked by ISIL does that now them make good guys? Does any one really believe after months of training we can make the ragtag FSA a fighting force, i.e., good guys? Then we have the Iran-supported Shi'ite militias — a combination of good/bad guys.

But then after trying to figure out who is who I relax knowing that our leader, President Obama, with his bootless campaign, after several years of bombing will sort out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.

In peace,

Jim Updegraff


ED NOTE: Remember at the time of 9-11, Osama bin Laden told the world that his master plan was a global strategy of rope-a-dope, that America would get sucked into endless wars in the Middle East that would eventually kill us? I'd say Osama's plan is right on schedule.

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Letter to Editor

When I first heard our County Supervisors were privatizing Mental Health, I had a strong feeling it was bad news. Where did I gain this incredible superpower of premonition (you may ask): the public library (another valued benefit of the Commons).

As it happens, I had just read David Cay Johnston's book “The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use 'Plain English' to Rob You Blind.” In one chapter he tells the memorable story of a little town in California (Felton) that found it necessary to wrest control of their water utility back from private ownership. The six-year citizen effort came at great cost, but the people finally prevailed in the end.

It's a shame our supervisors were not more wary of this pitfall as they stepped into the privatization trap. How long and difficult it will be to regain control of our Mental Health Services remains to be seen. Recently, the means of this privatization process has come into serious question. Perhaps this is an opportunity to step back and reassess the entire decision. If the process was indeed tainted by self interest, it may actually be easier to unwind the damage at this point.

David Cay Johnston's book is a collection of cautionary tales, illuminating the many ills of predatory greed that befall us in these days of unrestrained corporate capitalism. I highly recommend many of Mr. Johnston's books to anyone even vaguely interested in tax and economic policy. His prose is much more enjoyable than the topics sound.

Mike Kalantarian

Beyond the Deep End (Navarro)

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