Wednesday, January 7, 2009

LA PEG Community Fights for Access

Activists in Los Angeles are asking people to contact the State Attorney General to rescind the anti-access law for the following reasons:

Duplicity -- The LA City Council blames the State Legislature for DIVCA. Fabian Nunez and Lloyd Levine are both Los Angeles political leaders, well known to all of Southern CA. As leaders of the 2006 State Assembly, Nunez and Levine took the AT&T language, millions of dollars in campaign money, and co-authored DIVCA insisting DIVCA would not be discriminatory to LA/CA. people of color and lower income households. In fact, DIVCA has eliminated Spanish as a second language (SAP), hundreds of hours of other-than-English programming, permitted AT&T and others to "cherry-pick" lucrative neighborhoods for cable service, and closed down production studios and channels serving the many Angelenos without local access to electronic media, facilities and training. Cable rates have not decreased and infrastructure promised by AT&T is yet to be constructed.

Deceit -- The LA City Council made no serious attempt to
(1) inform LA residents of the impending Time Warner shutdown and made no attempt to publicly investigate alternative scenarios,
(2) The Council continues to use the financial crunch as the rationale for closure even though the City continues to collect $25 million per year in cable television franchise fees and millions more in Utility taxes exclusively from cable ser vices,
(3) The City will soon collect another $5 million (an additional 1% permitted under DIVCA) exclusively for PEG related expenses. (4) With Public Access eliminated (the four channels are designated "Educational and Government Access only"), these funds will go exclusively to Government Access programming providing additional and well funded face time for local elected officials and complete editorial control, effectively silencing their local rivals, critics and pundits.

Anti-democratic -- The U.S. Constitution protects the public's right to speak from the chilling effect and outright censorship of government officials. The orchestrated way in which DIVCA was rushed through the CA legislature by Nunez and Levine in return for millions in campaign donations from AT&T, the negative impact on the voices of LA residents, the loss of public resources without serious efforts by local government to "serve and protect" its citizens, the financial gain to be achieved for LA government, the direction of public funds to serve at the exclusive pleasure of elected officials, and the cynical manipulation and deceit of the public by local leadership stands out as a striking example of censorship by government and violation of Los Angeles citizen's Constitutional rights.

This is abuse of power on a massive scale -- the Big Lie, Los Angeles Water and Power revisited, and an insult to all who believe in democratic ideals, due process, transparency of government, and free speech.

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