Dems blast GOP move to strip NPR of funding

The House voted 228-192 today to strip National Public Radio of federal funding.

All of the yes votes were Republicans; seven Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with Democrats against HR 1076. The bill faces dim prospects in the Democrat-dominated U.S. Senate, but has Democrats’ and public radio supporters’ blood boiling nonetheless.

NPRRepublicans rushed the bill to the floor after last week’s resignation of NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, following a political activist’s video “sting” in which a high-ranking NPR fundraising official was caught expressing his personal, derogatory opinions about tea-party conservatives to people posing as donors from a Muslim philanthropy. Since the resignation, questions have arisen – even from right-wing icon Glenn Beck’s The Blaze – about whether the video was intentionally edited to mislead.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, co-chair of the Public Broadcasting Caucus and the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, led opposition to the bill.

“Republicans have declared an emergency to rush this bill to the Floor without any hearings to examine the proposal. We have many emergencies to deal with in our county, but attacking and crippling NPR is hardly an emergency,” Eshoo said in a news release.
“This proposal is not about reducing the deficit or cutting federal spending. In fact, the bill doesn’t produce a cent in savings, and will threaten 9,000 jobs at stations across the country. This bill was rooted in an ideological view about what NPR broadcasts and capitalizes on recent headlines.”

Eshoo’s office said more than 34 million Americans listen to NPR programming through more than 900 local stations across the U.S., Guam and the Virgin Islands. HR 1076 would cut off all federal funding to NPR, preventing any support to NPR by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and would prohibit public radio stations from using federal funds to acquire popular NPR programs such as “This American Life,” “Prairie Home Companion,” “Morning Edition,” “Car Talk,” “All Things Considered,” “Classical 24,” “World Café,” and “On Point” among others.

“This bill will affect 740,000 KQED listeners in my district who rely on public broadcasting for news and entertainment,” Eshoo said. “The legislation also impacts rural communities where public radio is often the only radio and where a quarter of a station’s budget is funded with federal support. These stations provide an important public service to the local community and people trust and enjoy the programming.”

“Simply put, this bill threatens jobs and undermines the important news and information that public radio provides to Americans each and every day. NPR and its member stations don’t deserve this treatment.”

Earlier, Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, had urged the House to oppose the bill:

The attack on NPR, just like the attack on Planned Parenthood, or on Head Start, and on workers’ rights and safety, has nothing to do with reducing the deficit and the debt. It is nothing more than a partisan political agenda that is out of step with, and very dangerous to, the American people.

The attack on NPR is outrageous and it should be rejected. The American people benefit greatly having this source of news that is free from the influence and demands of corporations and that consistently delivers top quality, in-depth, and breaking news on foreign affairs, science and technology, politics, the arts, and business.

If this leadership is so concerned with the deficit, why hasn’t it called up legislation to reduce tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to major oil companies, companies with record profits quarter after quarter and no need for subsidies to carry out their work?

Why hasn’t this leadership called up legislation to reduce some of the billions of dollars in Pentagon waste documented year after year?

And why was this leadership’s first major action in the House a bill that would increase the deficit over the next ten years by more than $210 billion by repealing our historic health care law?

Why? Because their rhetoric about deficit reduction is just a cover for a divisive political agenda that they hope will help them in the next election.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-NY, raised a complaint that today’s vote – coming only about 48 hours after the bill was posted to the Internet – violates a rule set earlier this year by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, promising that bills would be publicly available for at least three days before any vote:

(Full disclosure: Regular readers here will recall I’m often a guest on KQED TV’s “This Week in Northern California.” So far as I know, today’s bill has nothing to do with public television.)

More, after the jump…
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MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan to visit Port of Oakland

MSNBC’s “The Dylan Ratigan Show” will broadcast live next Thursday, Feb. 24 from the Port of Oakland, as the host aims to highlight the port’s ability to create economic vitality.

Dylan Ratigan (photo from MSNBC)The show, which airs at 1 p.m. PST, will examine the port’s success and how it can be adapted on a larger scale, the producers say, adding Ratigan “will also discuss emerging new evidence and economic trends that suggest that the United States is losing the global trade war and our businesses and government are facing unfair trade policies and practices.”

It’s part of the show’s “Steel on Wheels” tour, hitting the road for three days a month in December, January, February and March to check in with ordinary Americans and chart a course out of our economic doldrums. Past stops have included Seneca Falls, NY; Philadelphia; St. Louis; Rochester, Minn.; Omaha, Neb.; and Boulder, Colo. The producers say Ratigan also will host an open town hall for the public to continue the conversation of how can we rebuild America; details have not yet been announced.

“We’re looking at ways to fix our broken system, our broken democracy, and celebrate the things that do work in our country,” Ratigan said in a news release.


KTVU’s Randy Shandobil retires

Randy ShandobilKTVU Channel 2 Political Editor Randy Shandobil is retiring today, and Northern California is poorer for it.

Carla Marinucci, my esteemed colleague at the Chronicle, has already assembled a fitting tribute, so I’ll not reinvent the wheel. I’d simply add that Randy brought a depth of knowledge, a pitbull-like determination and a rapier wit to his job, each of which are valuable enough in television journalism but are so very rarely found in combination. He’s damned good at his job, and will be sorely missed by his fellow journalists and perhaps even moreso by his legions of viewers.


Orinda leaf-blower war goes national

An article in the New Yorker’s Oct. 25 edition takes aim at Orinda’s leaf-blower wars, and in keeping with the magazine’s often biting perspectives on the eccentricities of modern American life, there are more than a few zingers sprinkled throughout. A sampling:

So a lot of people here will give up their leaf blowers only when you pry them from their cold, dead hands (or, more precisely, from their Hispanic gardeners’ cold, dead hands).

“My husband gets so annoyed he runs out to the fence and blasts our electric leaf blower at the neighbors, and then I have to go unplug Dan.”

“Because we’re not living in Oakland ducking the next hail of bullets, there’s this idea that we’re just some fat-ass fussy busses, rich white people in the suburbs, worrying about a little noise,” he said. “But noise is very powerful. We’ve used Britney Spears songs on Guantánamo Bay prisoners.
“Children exposed to these noise bombs, it’s a disaster: impaired concentration, impaired sleep, inability to learn to read and speak. Children in loud, loud places like East Oakland are the ones who grow up saying, ‘Can I ax you a question?’ ”

The blower battle is particularly in-tense here because Orindans are proud of their city’s vaunted “semirural” character, and like to see themselves as homesteaders. If pressed, they may acknowledge that terrain bisected by a ten-lane highway — State Route 24 — and featuring two Starbucks and a Peets may not demand the grit of a Laura Ingalls Wilder.

In all seriousness, though, it’s a good piece on what happens when neighbors stop being neighborly in one of this region’s more affluent suburbs – definitely worth the read.


About the worker kerfuffle at Solyndra

KRON-TV reported today that union construction workers had been told to stay home today, losing a day’s pay, due to President Barack Obama’s visit to Fremont-based Solyndra Inc.’s not-yet-completed manufacturing plant.

The Republican National Committee and Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee jumped all over it — “Obama should be more focused on helping Californians get back to work, instead of keeping them from it,” said RNC spokesman Jahan Wilcox — but company spokesman David Miller says that’s not exactly what happened.

“After a tour of Solyndra’s Fab 1, President Obama met with union construction workers before his speech, photos of which can been seen on line from various news sources. Some of these construction workers shared compliments with Solyndra executives on being able to participate in the event. Further, in preparation for President Obama’s visit, there was significant overtime paid to construction workers.

“Due to President Obama’s visit and security for the event that was held, for several hours the construction work on the site was put on hold. Today, immediately after the event was over, construction work resumed. The workers are not losing a day of pay; rather the day will be made up down the road. The construction work that was put on hold during this shift still needs to get done. This is the same as what happens with a weather-related ‘rain-day’ construction site shut down.

“Please note the workers affected today work were subcontractors for Rudolph and Sletten, not employees of Solyndra.

“Finally, Solyndra hopes to build the second phase of its Fab 2 project, and is looking forward to enabling additional construction jobs for this project.”

Miller also noted that the $535 million loan guarantee that Solyndra received from the Energy Department under the Recovery Act to build this new factory has created 3,000 construction jobs, and the project has been running at least two shifts a day, six days a week since the groundbreaking last September, paying out more than $90 million in union wages.

I did see some Rudolph and Sletten workers wearing hard-hats at the speech, but there wasn’t room in the secured area to accomodate hundreds more.


More on KSFO letting Lee Rodgers go

Melanie Morgan, Lee Rodgers’ former co-host on KSFO’s morning show, posted his parting missive to her Web site Saturday, two days after the station let Rodgers go.

Basically, he says Citadel Broadcasting (which owns ABC Radio, which owns KSFO) is bankrupt, mismanaged, cruel and engaging in censorship. I tried to reach KSFO/Citadel management for a reply, but got no response to an e-mail and a voice-mail.

(UPDATE @ 11:22 A.M. TUESDAY: KSFO Marketing Director Anthony Licciardi got back to me this morning. “We really don’t have much of a comment about this,” he said. “We can’t control what ex-employees say about the company once they leave.” He referred me back to the original statement posted last week to the station’s Web site.)

Read Rodgers’ letter in its entirety after the jump…
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