Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Clark County government channel refuses to cover I-933 forum

Sometimes it’s truly astounding how insular Clark County is, and how far people will go to advance right wing agendas, even using taxpayer money to do so. The culprit this time is Clark-Vancouver Television (CVTV,) the government affairs cable station, which is showing a planner’s forum about Initiative 933, using a misleading title, while refusing to cover a forum sponsored by a “smart growth” group.

I’m flipping through the channels today, and I see a graphic on CVTV that says, “The Property Fairness Initiative I-933.” Turns out it’s a forum sponsored by “The American Planning Association’s Southwest Section,” according to CVTV.

Well, speaking of fairness, that doesn’t really seem like an apt way to describe Initiative 933. “Boondoggle” and “bogus” come to mind, but hey, if you’re the government channel you should be even handed, right?

If you check how I-933 will appear on the ballot, the word “fairness” does not appear, although it does appear in the text of the proposed law as a kind of propaganda. Always cute how the righties manage to do that.
Initiative Measure No. 933 concerns government regulation of private property.

This measure would require compensation when government regulation damages the use or value of private property, would forbid regulations that prohibit existing legal uses of private property, and would provide exceptions or payments.
Should this measure be enacted into law?
Now, the weird thing is that The American Planning Association is against I-933. So why CVTV puts up a misleading graphic like that for two hours or whatever is beyond me.

While the graphic stays up for most of the forum, and will doubtless be played repeatedly in the run-up to the election, CVTV is refusing to cover Friends of Clark County’s Oct. 23 forum about I-933. Friends is generally described as a”smart growth” sort of group. I’ve known some of their leaders in the past, and it’s a thoroughly non-partisan, non-profit group.

I spoke to Lora Caine, the president of Friends, and she confirms that CVTV will not cover their forum. According to Caine, the event will be recorded for Fort Vancouver Television, the public access channel, but FVTV is so underfunded that Friends will have to provide and train personnel to assist in production.

A pdf flier from Friends about their forum reveals that it will include not only “smart growth” types but even representatives from the BIAW and the Farm Bureau, so there is really no rational basis for CVTV’s decision to blackball Friends.

It’s not the first time CVTV has pulled a stunt like this.

This Sept. 29 Gregg Herrington column details how CVTV is playing favorites using taxpayer money. Basically, if you’re a development business you can televise your forums. If you’re regular old citizens, um, well, not so much.
The telecast of the May 24 pro-growth seminar was worthy of coverage on the public's channel, the county commissioners figured. They and the Vancouver City Council are the ultimate deciders in what CVTV does and does not cover. The fact Miller Nash picked the participants and organized the event was not a deal breaker for county commissioners. So what if a private business with an ax to grind and money to make gets air time on the public's TV station?


Fast forward to this month. Members of the Friends of Clark County group are agonizing about why they can't get the same treatment Miller Nash got. Friends couldn't get CVTV to cover its Sept. 18 forum on the county's proposed changes in the "more realistic" urban growth plan. Commissioner Stuart wanted to let CVTV televise the event; Morris and Boldt nixed it.
Morris, an alleged Democrat, and Boldt, a Republican, can easily be described as pro-developer, so much so that they have scrapped a growth management plan from two years ago in order to allow for more development.

CVTV got into a small amount of hot water earlier this election season, when 17th District House candidate Pat Campbell demanded that CVTV re-tape his interview when it turned out the interviewer had donated to his primary opponent. That story seems to have fallen into The Columbian’s memory hole, but snippets of it survive at Democracy for Vancouver.

To go back to the Herrington article from Sept. 29, it’s worth noting that CVTV is supposedly formulating a policy about how decisions on what to air are made.
CVTV's policy on what non-government events and meetings it does and doesn't cover falls somewhere between loosey-goosey and nonexistent; it feeds suspicions of favoritism. Bill Barron, the county administrator, was candid Wednesday in saying that a formal CVTV policy is needed and that the situation "is unfortunate. There are no ulterior motives, I assure you."
In the meantime, we have an election coming up, so it would be nice if CVTV would stop playing games and cover the Friends forum. What are they afraid of?

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