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This story blows

The bizarre battle over Cape Wind
May 30, 2007 2:31:52 PM - Boston Phoenix Newspaper
070601_capewind_main

Welcome to Cape Wind

Support the Cape Wind Project CLICK HERE

There’s a foul wind blowing off Cape Cod.

The clean-energy project known as Cape Wind makes more sense than ever, what with the mess in the Middle East and the earth getting warmer by the minute. But resistance to the proposed wind-farm — which would place 130 windmills in Nantucket Sound and provide up to 75 percent of the Cape’s energy at any given time — proves that it really isn’t easy being green. Since Cape Wind was first proposed in 2001, the project has made plenty of powerful enemies (see the sidebar “Enemies in High Places”), including Ted Kennedy, his nephew Robert, and a host of other wealthy Cape Codders who don’t want their beachfront views blighted or their sailing waters cluttered. (Opponents also cite concern for the local fishing industry and avian and marine habitats.)

Now the ongoing fight over Cape Wind has yielded a media controversy. Following the release of a new book (published on May 7) that paints the project’s opponents in an exceedingly unflattering light, some wind-farm supporters are accusing the Cape and Island stations of WGBH, Boston’s public-broadcasting behemoth, of de facto censorship. Whatever you make of this accusation, it shows just how charged the Cape Wind battle has become — and highlights just how much clout the project’s opponents actually have.

Conspiracy of silence
Allegations of a media blackout surrounding Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound (Public Affairs) started with a reading that Wendy Williams, who co-authored the book with Robert Whitcomb, gave at a Cape Cod bookstore, Chatham’s Cabbages and Kings, on May 16.

Before Williams’s appearance, Jack Moye — the husband of the bookstore’s owner and a wind-farm supporter — tried to drum up advance publicity for the event on WCAI, WGBH’s Cape affiliate. (WCAI shares staff and programming with WNAN, the Nantucket station, and WZAI, which serves Martha’s Vineyard; in radio parlance, the latter two stations are “repeaters.”) In early May, Moye says, he mentioned the book and the upcoming reading to Elizabeth White, the reporter in charge of WCAI’s wind-farm coverage: Moye says White told him she was eager to read the book and stopped by the store to pick up an advance copy.

A few days later, Moye says, he hadn’t heard back from White. So he contacted Georgia McDonald, WCAI’s corporate-sales director, thinking that a pledge might help his cause. McDonald subsequently visited the store and discussed Cape Wind with a staffer. According to Moye — who didn’t witness the exchange — McDonald said “one of the people at the station had looked at the book and thought it was too pointed to bear mention. I don’t think she actually used the word ‘biased,’ but that’s what it turned out to be.”

Nothing too remarkable so far. After all, reporters take a pass on stories all the time. Furthermore, Williams and Whitcomb’s book is biased — though it’s also informative and entertaining. Jim Gordon, the man behind the Cape Wind project, is consistently depicted as a visionary underdog, and the lionization of Gordon can be a bit much. In contrast, the project’s opponents — including Kennedy, whose family compound at Hyannisport is the stuff of legend — are cast as a bunch of rich hypocrites who’ve put their own needs ahead of the common good.

That said, a few additional details complicate the picture. Consider:

One of WGBH’s board members is the brother of a prominent wind-farm opponent.
David Koch, whose $12 billion placed him 49th on Forbes’ latest ranking of the world’s billionaires, sits on WGBH’s board of directors. He also helps fund the PBS program Nova, which is produced by WGBH. Meanwhile, Bill Koch — the businessman, Museum of Fine Arts benefactor/exhibitionist, and former America’s Cup winner whose net worth is a mere $1.3 billion — is a leader of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the major anti-wind-farm group. Bill Koch has reportedly spent more than one million dollars of his own fortune on the anti-wind-farm cause.

WGBH’s Cape affiliates have a working partnership with the Cape Cod Times, the editorial page of which staunchly opposes Cape Wind.
Times editors regularly appear on WCAI to discuss stories in that day’s paper. During Cliff Schechtman’s 10-year tenure as editor, which ended in 2005, several critics (including former Phoenix writer Mark Jurkowitz) accused the Times of allowing its editorial stance to influence its news coverage. In 2005, for example, former Times reporter Jack Coleman wrote that Schechtman “won’t send his reporters anywhere that they might find people who overcame their initial opposition to windmills off their coast.”

Wind-farm supporters agree that the Times’ news coverage has improved since Paul Pronovost replaced Schechtman as editor. But publisher Peter Meyer — who lives in Osterville, Ground Zero for Cape Wind opposition, and does not receive flattering treatment in Cape Wind — still holds the paper’s purse strings.

pages: 1 | 2

Deval Patrick's Fundraising

Boston Phoenix Thursday, June 21, 2007
 

The local ProgBloggers might not like it, but Frank Phillips has a perfectly valid point in today's Globe. Deval Patrick's fundraising activities absolutely should be watched and monitored closely, and it's up to the Governor to demonstrate, by his actions, that the money doesn't affect the governing.

That's the case, in my opinion, with any powerful public figure, but especially with Patrick. Why? For one thing, as Phillips points out, it certainly has the appearance of deeds not matching rhetoric. But more importantly, because of the seeming inverse relationship with some of his donors. That is to say, one expects people to donate to officeholders who are on their side of the issues -- if I'm a fan of low state income taxes, of course I would have been inclined to give to someone like Mitt Romney who was in my corner. But when people, or groups of people, give to an officeholder who is up to that point working against their interests, the public has a right to wonder whether they're trying to use that money, or the access that money brings, to get what they want.

When Patrick raises a bunch of money from NStar, it's certainly worth noting. It's also worth noting that he just raised a truckload from attorneys at Mintz Levin, which lobbies state government, and a little chunk from Arbella Insurance execs.

Sunshine is the great disinfectant, as they say. There's nothing wrong with Patrick raising money from any of these folks. But it's vital that the press and the public pay attention to it.

 

6/21/2007 9:13:11 AM by David S. Bernstein

Facing off over Facebook

Who’s looking at you, kid?
March 2, 2007 5:38:04 PM
 
Boston Phoenix Newspaper

Students, be warned: the college of your choice may be watching you, and will more than likely be keeping an eye on you once you enter the hallowed campus gates. America’s institutions of higher education are increasingly monitoring students’ activity online and scrutinizing profiles, not only for illegal behavior, but also for what they deem to be inappropriate speech.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, the speech codes, censorship, and double standards of the culture-wars heyday of the ’80s and ’90s are alive and kicking, and they are now colliding with the latest explosion of communication technology. Sites like Facebook and MySpace are becoming the largest battleground yet for student free speech. Whatever campus administrators’ intentions (and they are often mixed), students need to know that online jokes, photos, and comments can get them in hot water, no matter how effusively their schools claim to respect free speech. The long arm of campus officialdom is reaching far beyond the bounds of its buildings and grounds and into the shadowy realm of cyberspace.

A scary experience
Consider the case of Justin Park, a Korean-American student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. An intelligent and driven young man — smart enough to start at Hopkins at 15 — Justin began his junior year this past fall. But due to charges of racial harassment stemming from a party invitation he posted on Facebook, he was suspended from school this past November.

As social chair of his fraternity, Justin composed an invitation to a “Halloween in the Hood” party, one of many intentionally un-PC themed parties the fraternity had thrown over the years (others included a “White Trash Trailer Bash” and a “Catholic Schoolgirl Party”). Taking his cues from Chapelle’s Show and MTV videos, he crafted the invite’s call, listing gangsta rapper Ice-T as the party’s host and asking partygoers to “come dressed in yo’ bomb ass Halloween costume or git smok’d.” It was an awkward attempt, to be sure, but Justin thought it was the kind of ironic humor that his peers would recognize as making fun of himself and the party as much as anything else.

Justin posted the party invitation on Facebook. After all, every one of his friends was a member of Facebook. Come to think of it, so was pretty much the entire student body. And that’s where the problem started.

Justin’s friends weren’t the only ones who saw his invitation. In fact, the university’s director of Greek Affairs regularly monitored Facebook activity — and he was not amused. Calling the invite offensive, he asked Justin to take it down. He did. But once the invite was removed, people kept e-mailing Justin, asking if the party was still on.

So Justin put up another invite the next day, making sure to remove what he thought to be the offensive language. In fact, he hammed it up: right next to the call for attendees to wear “copious amounts of so-called ‘bling bling ice ice,’ ” he wrote that he didn’t “condone or advocate racism, fascism, communism, consumerism, capitalism, terrorism, organism(s), sexism, womanism, jism, or any other –ism’s,” but referred to Baltimore as an “HIV pit” and made mocking references to O.J. Simpson and Johnnie Cochran. As far as Justin and his friends were concerned, however, the invite was an obvious joke.

The party was held the next night, and it was well-attended. Not all who came, however, enjoyed themselves. According to the Baltimore Sun, members of the Black Student Union attended the party, and to many of them the party was a direct affront, a celebration of negative racial stereotypes. Black Student Union members took particular offense to a skeleton pirate dangling from a noose, which they perceived as an obvious symbol of lynching. (The university later concluded, however, that the skeleton had been meant to represent the motion picture Pirates of the Caribbean.)

A week later, Justin received a letter from John Hopkins’s associate dean of students, informing him that he’d been charged with violating university policy because of the language used in his invitations. Specifically, Johns Hopkins charged Justin with “failing to respect the rights of others and to refrain from behavior that impairs the university’s purpose or its reputation in the community,” violating the “university’s anti-harassment policy,” “failure to comply with the directions of a university administrator,” “conduct or a pattern of conduct that harasses a person or a group,” and “intimidation.”

Although they sound official, these quasi-legal charges wouldn’t stand for a second in a real court. According to a 2003 statement by the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the legal standard for “harassment” is behavior that is “sufficiently serious (i.e., severe, persistent, or pervasive) as to limit or deny a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program.” The OCR, in fact, issued the 2003 statement to address the rampant abuse of “harassment” charges to punish un-PC speech. Justin’s speech, however obtuse, was still well within the bounds of expression protected by the First Amendment. As Gregory Kane, an (African-American) English professor at Johns Hopkins wrote in an editorial column for the Baltimore Sun: “We’ll just keep saying it until the idea sinks in: There is no right, constitutional or otherwise, to not be offended.”

pages: 1 | 2 | 3
 

 

Monday, December 08, 2008

We're hard at work over here putting together photo, video, and good old written recaps of last night's Boston Music Awards, but for now we figured that you might want to know who the winners were. Click here for lists of all the nominees, and be sure to check back later on today and all week long for continued coverage. Oh - and congrats to all victorious parties.

Outstanding Tribute Act of the Year
Joshua Tree

Outstanding International Music Act of the Year
Zili Misik

Outstanding Folk Act of the Year
Miss Tess

Outstanding Blues Act of the Year
David Maxwell

Outstanding Singer-Songwriter Act of the Year
Marissa Nadler
 

Outstanding Jazz Act of the Year
Grace Kelly

Outstanding Americana Act of the Year
Girls, Guns and Glory

Outstanding Punk Act of the Year
Big D and the Kids Table

Outstanding Metal / Hardcore Act of the Year
Doomriders

Outstanding DJ / Electronica Act of the Year
Baltimoroder

Outstanding Pop / R&B Act of the Year
JADA

Outstanding Hip-Hop Act of the Year
Termanology

Outstanding Rock Act of the Year
Wild Light

Best College Band
Bearstronaught

Humanitarian of the Year
Chad Stokes (State Radio)

Unsung Hero Award
Billy Beard (Face to Face)

Best Song of the Year – Local
Great Bandini / “One and One”

Best Song of the Year – National
Juliana Hatfield / “This Lonely Love”

Producer of the Year – Hip-Hop/R&B
Matty Trump

Producer of the Year – Rock/Pop
Ed Valauskas
 

Male Vocalist of the Year – Local
Eli Reed

Male Vocalist of the Year – National
Al Barr (Dropkick Murphys)

Female Vocalist of the Year – Local
Sarah Borges

Female Vocalist of the Year – National
Amanda Palmer

Outstanding Live Act of the Year
The Camp

Best New Act of the Year
The Low Anthem

Album of the Year – Local
Akrobatik / Absolute Value

Album of the Year – National
Amanda Palmer / Who Killed Amanda Palmer

Act of the Year – Local
Girls, Guns & Glory

Act of the Year – National
New Kids on the Block

 

 

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