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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.

Posted on Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
Under: Barack Obama, Media, Obama presidency | 7 Comments »

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…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2010
Under: Media | 13 Comments »

Lee Rodgers is done at KSFO

Lee RodgersConservative activist Melanie Morgan – whose layoff from her long-running stint on KSFO talk radio was first reported here back in 2008 – reports today that her former co-host, morning show host Lee Rodgers, is now done, too.

Indeed, KSFO Programming Vice President Jack Swanson has a statement up on the station’s Web site welcoming Brian Sussman to the morning host’s chair in what he calls ” a very natural transition.”

“Although a lot of listeners were unaware, Lee had actually moved to Arizona many years ago and was broadcasting from his home,” Swanson wrote. “He later cut back his work schedule to only 4 days a week, which created the opportunity for Brian to become part of the show. We are grateful to Lee for his many contributions, and wish him many happy years in Arizona.”

Rodgers’ conservative diatribes often made him a target of liberal watchdog groups such as Media Matters.

Posted on Thursday, February 18th, 2010
Under: Media | 24 Comments »

For your television viewing pleasure

Republican U.S. Senate candidates Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore will be on Fox News personality Glenn Beck’s show at 2 p.m. today, for a segment live from Los Angeles in which “Glenn explains how he’d fix California’s budget,” according to his Web site. As DeVore campaign spokesman Joshua Trevino suggests: “Just imagine the green room conversation.”

Also, if you’ve not already seen it, Jon Stewart was the guest on Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor” last week, and the uncut interview is available online. (Sorry, Fox doesn’t allow video embeds.)

Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Carly Fiorina, Chuck DeVore, Media, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

‘Vexatious requestor’ bill pulled due to opposition

Whenever somebody moves to limit or close the flow of public records, I get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Today’s ulcer comes courtesy of Attorney General Jerry Brown and Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter, D-Rialto, who in February put forth AB 520, which would let a judge issue an order limiting the number and scope of requests a particular person can make under the California Public Records Act. “The bill would require the court, in issuing the order, to determine that the requestor has sought records under the act for an improper purpose, including, but not limited to, the harassment of a public agency or its employees,” according to the Legislative Counsel’s digest.

As someone who uses the CPRA often, I see problems with this “vexatious requestor” bill – agencies petitioning judges any time they feel they’re being picked on. Simply put, it’s none of a government agency’s business why someone wants public records – it’s not their place, nor a judge’s, to pick and choose between who will and won’t get records that should be available to anyone and everyone. Audits have shown many state agencies already fail to comply with CPRA, and this bill could give them yet another way of tying up requests.

The California Newspaper Publishers Association is dead-set against it, and open-government group Californians Aware opposes the bill not only on principle but as inherently legally flawed.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee was to take up the bill at its hearing yesterday, but Carter pulled it “in order to work with the recent opposition that has come to light,” she said today. “The bill will require further research to develop, if possible, a measure that would address the significant consumption of public resources related to repetitive public records requests that appear to be abusive in nature. First and foremost, however, we must protect the State’s Open Records Act and the public’s right to oversee its government. Unless that can be assured, and opposition to the bill removed, the bill will not move forward.”

Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Under: Assembly, Jerry Brown, Media | 3 Comments »

Conservatives launch PAC against media rules

California Republican Party Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette today is helping to launch a new PAC, the “First Amendment Now Campaign,” to combat what he says are Democratic efforts to curtail conservative political speech.

The main issue is the Fairness Doctrine, a Federal Communications Commission policy dating from 1949 but abolished in 1987 that required broadcast license holders to present controversial issues of public importance in a way the FCC considered honest, equitable and balanced.

Although President Barack Obama repeatedly has said he opposes reinstating it – see here and here – and the U.S. Senate last month overwhelmingly approved an amendment nixing it, conservatives have continued to rally against it, leading some critics – see here, here and here – to wonder whether it’s an intentional effort to dangle some red meat as a distraction from other issues.

Still, Del Beccaro, California Political News and Views publisher Steve Frank and state Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, along with a bunch of conservative talk radio personalities, are launching this new organization, asking for donations of $17.76 “to preserve our freedom.”

Besides the Fairness Doctrine, they say, they’re concerned about President Obama’s calls for “localism,” or requiring broadcast license holders to dedicate some of their airtime to the interests of their local community – obviously a concern for a conservative station such as KSFO-AM/560 that’s located in an overwhelmingly liberal place such as San Francisco.

And they’re also worried about President Obama’s calls for broadcast media ownership diversity, dating back to 2007 and echoed now in Congress. The President and supporters claim they’re concerned about a lack of female and minority ownership in the broadcast media, but opponents claim it’s just another back-door way to undercut conservative free speech.

So expect to hear a lot about this all across your AM radio dial as this new organization holds a kickoff rally next Tuesday, March 24 on the State Capitol’s north steps, and then as it moves forward with an effort to gather a million petition signatures it can present to U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. The PAC promises to use its money “to preserve the First Amendment; to oppose the Fairness Doctrine, government-imposed diversity and localism; and to oppose candidates that favor the Fairness Doctrine.”

Posted on Thursday, March 19th, 2009
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Media, Republican politics, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Tell us how you feel about this election.

We’re trying a new feature for Election Day that lets people call in and leave a voice message with their thoughts. We’re presenting the audio mp3s on our Bay Area web sites, including ContraCostaTimes.com, InsideBayArea.com and MercuryNews.com.

So — How has this election changed the country? How has it affected you?

Call 1-510-495-1442 to offer a comment of about 30 seconds or less, and then check back later by clicking here to see it’s among those we’ve posted.

Posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Under: Elections, Media | No Comments »

Right-wing columnists target McCain/Palin

I know John McCain and Sarah Palin have been campaigning as much against the media as against Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but the past two weeks have heard even some very conservative media voices sounding against the GOP ticket.

First it was the New York Times’ David Brooks, last Tuesday, Sept. 16:

Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.

The next day, it was the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen:

What impressed me most about McCain was the effect he had on his audiences, particularly young people. When he talked about service to a cause greater than oneself, he struck a chord. He expressed his message in words, but he packaged it in the McCain story — that man, beaten to a pulp, who chose honor over freedom. This had nothing to do with access. It had to do with integrity.

McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir — the person in whose hands he would leave the country — is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not.

The Washington Post’s George F. Will weighed in this past Tuesday:

Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

And today it’s the National Review’s Kathleen Parker:

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

[snip]

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

Posted on Friday, September 26th, 2008
Under: Elections, General, John McCain, Media, Sarah Palin | No Comments »

On Ralph Nader, the media, parrots and pandas

I spoke with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader about an hour ago in advance of his visit to the Bay Area next week. We talked mostly about the financial market bailout – that’s what I wrote a story about, though I’m not sure if it’ll make it into tomorrow’s editions or Thursday’s – but we also discussed this ad of his:

The YouTube blurb: “Cardozo, here you are from the free flying Amazon jungle to a cage in Utah –albeit an open door cage with a fine master. Do not feel sad, Cardozo. Millions of voters have also been put into an invisible cage. It is a corporate-dominated two-party cage with no open door unless they break out and vote for Nader/Gonzalez. They stand specific and tall for justice, peace and freedom within a competitive democracy.”

Nader sighed sadly as I asked him about it today. “We have the best proposals to turn this country around, practical and seasoned – and Cardoza is the winner for hits on our Web site.”

“It’s all about the theater of the absurd,” Nader said, the same way he’ll be a guest on HBO’s rollicking “Real Time with Bill Maher” this Friday night to comment on the presidential candidates’ debate from which he was excluded.

He has taken tough questions from Conan O’Brien’s Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, he said, but can’t get calls returned from Charlie Rose, Bill Moyers, Terry Gross, Jim Lehrer, Katie Couric, Brian Williams or Charles Gibson due to “the political bigotry against third parties.”

So meanwhile, he’ll talk to parrots.

Nader repeated to me his thought from the video that perhaps he’ll don a panda suit and amble on down to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., to see if he can catch the mass media’s attention. I told him Oakland has been trying to get pandas for almost a decade, and urged him to give me an exclusive. We’ll see.

Posted on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008
Under: Elections, General, Media, Ralph Nader | No Comments »

You can’t keep a good journalist down

Steve Geissinger, who for years brought you news from our Sacramento office before falling victim to our company’s latest downsizing late last month, has landed on his feet, just as I knew he would: He’s the new reporter for Capitol Television News Service, as reporter Rob Griffith moves up to be bureau chief.

CTNS is an independent, subscriber-driven news service supplying dozens of television news departments across the state with daily satellite video feeds and news stories on state news and political developments. CTNS News Director Steve Mallory, himself a former correspondent, said Steve will continue CTNS’ tradition of reliable and objective reports to its subscriber stations: “For more than 20 years, CTNS has delivered the cold, hard facts on state politicians. I’m confident Steve will be a solid addition to our aggressive team of journalists.”

Being back in the saddle means Steve’s reinstatement as president of the Capitol Correspondents Association of California — not an easy post to stomach, given all the downsizing happening at news outlets everywhere.

“Amid state budget chaos, this is one of those historic times to keep an eye on the Capitol. But after I was forced to leave MediaNews in the downsizing of its Sacramento bureau, there were no mainstream newspaper job openings covering the Capitol,” Steve told me.

“Actually, I was told there will be more cuts and more cuts in the newspaper industry. Nobody really knows where it will stop. So I was very lucky a TV news service job opened at the right moment. But TV is under the same economic pressures caused by the Internet. Maybe something on the Internet will develop into a mainstream, objective watchdog independent of for-profit newspapers and TV. But right now, the watchdog that’s so key to democracy is fading away.”

Steve said as CCAC president he’s willing to assist any nonprofit foundation willing to step up to restore that watchdog.

Posted on Friday, July 25th, 2008
Under: Media, Sacramento | No Comments »