Concerned Citizens of Mason County attempts to muzzle reporter:
CCMC, a non-profit corporation chartered to deal with the BioMassacre threat to area residents, held an informational meeting and fund raising drive at the Shelton Civic Center at 6:30pm this Wednesday, 3-9-11. As usual, yours truly arrived about 15 minutes late to cover the event, so the small room already contained those seated attendees interested in hearing Fran Prescott’s presentation on recent events affecting the Adage proposal so roundly criticized by the community. Accordingly, this reporter set up camera and tripod adjacent to a side door near the front of the room containing perhaps 5 dozen people in order to document/photograph the public as well as the presenters.
Gonzo journalism was the order of the evening (with apologies to Hunter S. Thompson) while what began as a typically pedestrian civics exercise almost became a brawl in the wake of heated confrontations and exchanges of fighting words. Unfortunately, no drugs were involved and we were nowhere near Barstow. Still, with a measure of profanity laced confrontations mixed with the asserted vulnerability of elderly grandmothers thrown in, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Perhaps chronologically will do?
Beth McBain recently yielded the chairmanship of the CCMC to Fran Prescott due to demands on her time conflicting with keeping Beth’s business running as her family’s primary earner. So Fran was new to her role as chair and it’s unclear what position Theresa Jacobson holds as an officer in the non-profit. Both were at the head of the room conducting the meeting.
As Fran worked her way through her slide/power-point presentation displayed on the wall, it seemed there was a free flow of questions and answers befitting an effort to rally community support. Interestingly, after her slide show, Fran explained CCMC was interested in focusing on the larger polluter (Adage) rather than Simpson. This logic is suspect due to the dirtier older unmonitored stack Simpson currently utilizes in the heart of downtown Shelton. Fran went on to describe how Simpson was an acceptable part of the community, unlike Adage, and was a major provider of jobs (no longer true–Fran hasn’t done her homework and is reacting to old cliche’s) rather than the filthy dirty anachronism it has become.
Adage is now in a position to allege xenophobia and NIMBY politics, not to mention the question of environmental social justice not given the poorer segments of the community who live near the Simpson plant. The wealthier contributors tend to live closer (or downwind) from the proposed Adage site. So a non-profit (CCMC) created to challenge the corruption of politics by corporate money is seen (by this logic) to be tailoring its own suit using whole cloth derived from the same warp and weave. For a moment, Fran sounded all too much like Brenda Hirschi in this regard. Give money to CCMC at the expense of poorer residents who continue to breathe shit?..and with accolades to Simpson from Fran, no less?
This bigotry is at the very root of why CCMC officers condone harassment of an unaffiliated reporter at large whose editorial policies they question. They’re convinced they’re targeting an easy mark…for the same reason downtown residents receive the dirty end of the stick…elitism–not that there aren’t those below the poverty level who’d love to trade places and lick whatever boots necessary to transition there. The poor often are gulled by myths of social mobility. And too often they give up the simple dignity of the poor for the illusion of acceptance by the swells.
The feel-good give and take appeared to continue throughout the meeting although yours truly noted a certain glowering in Theresa Jacobson’s countenance spotted at previous community events. Given Theresa’s obvious brilliance and activism, it was hoped there was nothing personal in it…ahh, but how sharper than a serpent’s tooth. This was nothing but personal, as it turned out, no matter how incongruous that seemed. Schoolyard politics were rife only inches below the surface.
There was some whining, as the meeting wore on and questions were fielded, about the lack of ‘media coverage’ from the likes of The Journal and KMAS. Although the observation that WE ARE THE MEDIA today was interjected in response, Theresa Jacobson and Fran Prescott shamelessly allowed one eyed Gary to bully yours truly for photographing the event. Ms. Prescott added this blog’s reporting of names as justification for the objection along with ‘preying’ on helpless old ladies. Most members of the media just can’t resist preying on helpless old ladies or subpoenaing them to court proceedings as material witnesses. Pat Vandehey comes to mind only because she feigned amnesia when asked to testify to an assault she witnessed committed by ‘mad dog’ outside a Mason County courtroom on 12-13-10 and could (from mere appearances) be construed as a little old lady. She’s the same little old lady that groused about Beth McBain during her tenure as chair. Pat and Fran spend time talking.
Fran invites strategies of obscurity over transparency. It would have been more productive if Fran had been more genuine about just which ‘old ladies’ she was referencing. But that might have required listening and openness…something CCMC claims it wants from our elected officials. One wonders how keen an ear CCMC itself would have were it holding the reins.
Theresa Jacobson first came to light less than a year ago when she challenged yours truly during the setting up of microphones and a video camera in preparation to cover that event featuring Dr. Greg Helms at the very same Shelton Civic Center. After being asked, “Who gave you permission to tape this event?” she was told, “Duff Badgley.” She temporarily retreated then returned with Duff in tow and insisted no taping take place. When the fair number of other video cameras present in the large gathering were pointed out and she was asked if it was something ‘personal’, she responded the presenters didn’t know who Duff had invited and were uncomfortable. Theresa was informed in blunt terms, given the public nature & forum of the event, it would be recorded regardless. Subsequently, Theresa ran a spirited campaign for the position of PUD #3 commissioner and lost.
As an aside, in the wake of so many dedicated candidates who supported the community view on BioMassacre having been soundly defeated, Kathryn Price wondered out loud in a reflective post how such genuinely intelligent hopefuls could fare so badly at the polls. She criticized those who were more comfortable with a candidate like Jerry Lingle and a glass of beer than the somewhat thoughtful but brittle Brenda Hirschi. Brenda’s opined take was the community had little choice between her and Jerry. The voters demonstrated their choice was big enough to make a difference. Similarly, voters chose Linda Gott over Theresa despite Ms Jacobson’s spunk and dedication to such an important issue as BioMassacre. Perhaps the collective wisdom concluded a righteous cause won’t substitute for or displace an egotistical attitude in the candidate–something apparent in both women correctly aligned with those opposed to BioMassacre. Arguably, neither could have overcome a reluctance to communicate evenly or an inability to negotiate through civil discourse/dialog. You don’t have to have a college education, collectively, to recognize the candidate seeking your vote is likely to be an asshole in office. We have too many fitting that description holding office now.
Despite their many cardinal and egregious sins, the local elected villains of BioMassacre have never attempted to stop coverage of public events as have some of the better known BioMassacre radicals like those cited.
Immediately following the CCMC sponsored meeting, Theresa approached. She had been talking to a one-eyed man named Gary who will be quoted below. Theresa expressed irritation and disapproval regarding questions asked from behind the camera near the front of the room. She went on to say they were inappropriate because, she asserted, some might confuse the questioner with ‘authority’ from the CCMC. She was reminded the community needed as much calcium for those with backbones as it could get. She leveraged her argument by claiming some questions were asked out of turn. When reminded there were many such that came from the midst of those seated, she reasoned the few coming from behind the camera were more objectionable because it was too near the sacrosanct seating of those in the CCMC chairing the meeting at one end of the room.
In a good faith effort to maintain civility at a community event, Theresa was offered the explanation it was important to stay near the camera capturing the images of the meeting. She suggested the camera could have been set up in the BACK of the room (that seemed important to her) although it was pointed out this would have revealed little but the backs of people’s heads. She had little to add but was informed 1st Amendment guarantees would be aggressively cherished. The conflicting views about the same had come full circle right back to where they began a year earlier, and in the very same place. Then Gary, the one eyed man (he refused to give/repeat his name), approached with a chip on his shoulder. His profanity laced belligerency didn’t daunt him a bit when asked his name. “None of your business!” he retorted. All he wanted known was his dislike and largess.
Gary was full of invective, profanity, accusing yours truly of being ‘obnoxious’ and worse. He announced he had given large sums of money to the cause for which we had gathered and would refuse to attend any events where yours truly was present or to give any more money for his favored purpose. This was a transparent effort to marshal support from those he viewed as eager to receive such sums. He complained bitterly of the pictures having been taken and those acquired at the public 1-31-11 ORCAA hearing at the Shelton Civic Center as well. He appeared nonplused to the response (sans profanity) offered explaining how the 1st Amendment bore on such objections.
Following this round of nose thumbing, Fran Prescott was asked to discuss the issue due to her position as chair of the CCMC and the many preceding telephone conversations. Theresa attempted to join in but was dismissed. Any expectations of solidarity or collegiality were quickly dashed by Fran. The big surprise came when Fran invoked the ‘little old lady’ red herring. She glibly asserted the reason elderly grandmothers and little old ladies weren’t coming to meetings was due to yours truly taking pictures AND posting ‘names’ on this blog, that THEY WERE AFRAID. She went on to allege that these seniors were being PREYED on. When asked if that was the key word she wanted to use and given an opportunity to select another, she insisted it was the one she wished to apply. But when told that all aspects and remarks during/after the meeting would be published, she forbade being quoted. Her tone & demeanor became mean, hostile, and threatening. Fran acidly demanded to know if yours truly thought he had some God Given Right!? When told, “Yes,” she ordered/demanded not to be quoted. She was reminded such had never been a given unless confidentiality was sought and agreed to in advance.
(Fran and friend’s BS is typical of the kind of tactic seen so often in male vs. female krap. The woman feigns fear to gain advantage or, as in the case of ‘Mad Dog’, is suffering from mental illness with paranoia being one of the symptoms.)
[Advice to budding/aspiring journalists: Keep the subjects of your story at a proper distance, avoiding the entanglements that come with familiarity…as it invites contempt and presumptuousness. You can’t be an effective reporter and your subject’s “buddy”.]
Fran then stated she would share NO further information/news and would accept no phone calls. Some residents have been aware of and objected to the allegedly secretive strategy of CCMC operatives. While such confidentiality can arguably be defended, here the tactic was threatened without qualification. Gary presumed (perhaps correctly) that his largess gave him license. But some are uncomfortable with this logic and have said so. (Perhaps CCMC has become too petty to be effective?) An equally powerful (perhaps more so) argument can be made for transparency. Stealth certainly doesn’t lend itself to edifying the larger community. Contributions for attorney fees are helpful, but ultimately the public will be left to itself after those funds are spent. However, what is invested in the citizens themselves cannot be taken/destroyed. More emphasis/money should be put/spent educating our neighbors, Fran’s pique notwithstanding.
Following this trio of confrontations and unlikely assertions, several older women were asked if they had been frightened by the taking of photographs at the various events. None asked confirmed Fran’s assertions.
The fact of the matter is, ~85% of those attending these meetings have been senior women, grandmothers, who have been doing most of the heavy lifting and had the strongest language for their elected officials. Little could be more admirable or inspiring. This story is being spelled out in our midst and receiving national attention. This community blog will continue to tell that story and those who are part of it. It will not succumb to threats, intimidation, or demands to do otherwise or to seek editorial control over how that story and its component events are covered.
Others have attempted to chill the environment for open reporting or criticism without much success, including the talented, locally notorious but mentally ill Shawnie Vedder when she censored an article covering Brenda Hirschi’s candidacy on her blog. That article ended up here with further comments about the censorship. It can be found by searching this blog.
As always, this blog remains true to its promise to cover ALL the news without editing out the uncomfortable parts, hiding the identity of community participants, or shielding candidates worthy of criticism. Yes, that will include names (when thought relevant), pictures, and refusal to yield to external attempts to censure or control editorial policy/coverage. Some have tried to compromise this community blog by marginalization, specious legal assaults, and even the poisoning of 2 Nubian bucks (mushrooms) and the vandalizing of a mailbox.
This blog reflects a passion for the principles on which America was founded. Those who would pervert these principles are toe jam. There will be NO ‘toning it down’ in defending such principles and holding those who would destroy them accountable. If you are one who cannot abide these ideals, then go back home to the rock you crawled from, lick the hands of those who feed you, and we will try to forget you were once our countrymen.
Open Observation to Theresa & Fran, et al:
Jay Hupp and Tim Sheldon may be greedy bastards and slobs wanting to profit from pollution of the environment, but you guys are control freak Nazis with no respect for civil rights or American values. I can’t decide which, morally, is worse. But you do remind me that Hitler was a vegetarian.
Possible factors contributing to self delusion in arrogant control freaks & elected officials (Vanity makes them stupid?)