Anniversaries are supposed to be festive affairs. But sometimes they are a dark reminder of a dark chapter of events. Obviously those responsible would prefer that everyone kept quiet until memories became hazy.
Lake County has 5 and 10 year local anniversaries coming up that I haven’t forgotten. They are ugly examples of what happens when a few ignorant, small minded ideologues filled with hate gain political power and use it as a club against our basic civil rights.
The dates are September 24th, 2004 and December 9th, 2009 if anyone wants to mark them on their calendar or don a black robe and carry a sign. Both these days of infamy deal with Lake County’s public access channel (TV8). I was the focus of the earlier date and fought in the second battle.
In 2003 Lake County’s public access channel limped onto the cable on the strength of a provision in the city of Clearlake’s franchise agreement. Its only funding was from a fee charged to Yuba College for their distance learning program.
There was never any intention of turning TV8 into a true PEG Channel. The only regular programming was the college classes, a community bulletin board, and the Board of Supervisors meetings. Control of Lake County’s TV8 resided in the “PEG Committee”, dominated by the city of Clearlake. The City Manager chaired the Committee which included a City Councilperson and a City employee. The public was supposedly represented on the Committee by the City Manager’s crony and a fundamentalist minister.
Only the City Manager and his crony regularly put their own programs on the access channel, using equipment squeezed out of the cable channel and editing time from the City employee. Anyone else who wanted to use the access channel had to go before this star chamber for a viewing where they would issue their verdict as to whether to air the submitted video or not. I was the first member of the public to push the matter.
I had this idea for a satirical melodrama based on a local political controversy. The City employee slipped me the cheap camera no one used and let me use the editing computer when no one was around. Still, word got out to the ruling junta about what I was doing.
At the September 24, 2004 PEG Committee meeting my video was scheduled to go on trial. Normally no one but me from the public shows up to these snoozers. But on this day the room was packed with the crony’s personal goon squad who paradoxically called themselves “Positive Image for Clearlake.” They showed up and took over the meeting, howling and hooting with the Manager smiling broadly as his crony egged them on. An insurance agent stood up and denounced me at length to thunderous applause before storming out the room, coat tails flapping.
The mob’s outbursts were punctuated by the crony repeating that he wanted to “punch me out.” The pitchfork and torch wielding geriatric goober squad included three candidates for Clearlake City Council that the crony thought appropriate to endorse in the middle of a PEG meeting.
Fortunately, Cynthia Parkhill, the local newspaper editor, came to my rescue. She had gotten wind that something weird was afoot and decided to show up. As my video, Broadsided At Basshole played, she took notes and smiled. This enraged the bible thumper on the Committee who began attacking her for being amused by my work of heresy.
The next time the crony said he wanted to punch me out I suggested a chess game instead. This only earned me a look of stark hatred from the Neanderthal.
Meanwhile, the City employee who had broadcast experience, answered questions about the arcane concept of free speech and getting sued. The codger strike force of businessmen, former policemen, and City founders began to lose steam. In the end it was just the City Manager, his crony, and the preacher who voted to ban “Broadsided At Basshole” from TV8.
Later, two of the principle goobers were over heard complaining, “And the worst part is he used OUR equipment.” Such is ruling class mentality. I kinda thought it was my equipment too.