education

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TruthToTell, June 25: RELIGION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Will You Speak Up?-PODCAST is UP HERE

Listen to or download this episode here:
Young Evangelist

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Time was – back in the 1950s – those of us from Catholic grade schools who found ourselves attending public high schools – in my case Central High School from St. Luke’s Parish (now St. Thomas More) in theArchdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis – religious education was continued by way of what were called “Release” classes. Every Wednesday afternoon, the agreement between the schools and the church allowed Catholic students to be “released” from their class(es) early to walk a few blocks to a Catholic Church (in our case, St. Peter Claver – where the “Black Catholics” go. Still do, but very mixed now), sit around talking some catechism and all that for an hour, then woke up and went home. Probably between ten and twelve showed up each week.

This went on for the first year, perhaps another half-year before I gave up on that nonsense.

Meanwhile, in place of the discredited high school fraternity/sorority system that prevailed in Minnesota until thrown out in the early 50s under a somewhat scandalous shadow, came the Hi-Y (boys) and Y-Teens (girls) clubs established under the rubric of the YMCA and YWCA, respectively. About five to seven clubs for each gender and themselves taking on Greek names (Kappa Hi-Y was the one I joined). Of course, we Catholics were theoretically forbidden to belong to one of these because the Y’s are “Christian” – meaning Protestant (horrors!). The Catholic answer to all this were the CYC’s – Catholic Youth Centers – all put together to keep us Catholic and away from all the others. Our school was St. Paul’s true melting pot. About 80% of the city’s Jewish kids attended Central (you’d know many names) and they had their own groups. The boys belonged to AZA, the girls – B’nai B’rith.

All this to say that religion and religion youth groups have forever been part of a teen’s life in Minnesota’s public schools. But, those organizations, while well-attended and active, were off-campus, and, as far as I know, the elementary schools were out of bounds altogether. No religious group claimed the right to use public school resources or spaces for their religious or social activities. Meetings, classes, social events and dances, etc., were all staged elsewhere and the classrooms were free of such intrusion.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has tracked most of this record of court cases and disputes between churches and state institutions. One of their surveys may shock you:

“Federal courts, …civil libertarians point out, have consistently interpreted the First Amendment's prohibition on the establishment of religion to forbid state sponsorship of prayer and most other religious activities in public schools.

“Despite that long series of court decisions, polls show that large numbers of Americans favor looser, not tighter, limits on religion in public schools. According to an August 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center, more than two-thirds of Americans (69%) agree with the notion that ‘liberals have gone too far in trying to keep religion out of the schools and the government.’ And a clear majority (58%) favor teaching biblical creationism along with evolution in public schools.”

This is shocking news, running counter to Supreme Court rulings dating to 1940 that were clearly designed to separate public schools from intrusive religious credos. Until 2001, when, in a 6-3 decision (Child Evangelism Fellowship [CEF] vs. Milford (NY) Central School), the US Supreme Court threw out a district policy forbidding the use of school property for religious purposes, effectively freezing out CEF from establishing its “Good News Clubs” there. Such a ban violated freedom to promote a viewpoint, said the majority. Outside groups could be banned, but not based on their views. The dissenters rabidly stated that the CEF was using Good News Clubs to proselytize, but the majority said that doesn’t matter. A Minnesota case is pending in the Federal Court of Appeals.

Much of this would no doubt be buried in the arcane business of local school governance and the courts were it not for 1) a series of articles by MinnPost.com’s Education Reporter and Columnist, Beth Hawkins, and 2) a new book by investigative reporter Katherine StewartThe Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. The latter will be in town to appear and sign books and talk about this phenomenon under the auspices of Americans United (for Separation of Church and State). All of this in advance of a Child Evangelism Fellowship strategy conference to be held here in MInneapolis in July.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI will talk with the reporters/authors and an AU representative about the legal history, the political climate and the future of the precedents in the arena of religion on the public schools.

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Katherine Stewart presentations and book-signings:

MONDAY, JUNE 25, 7:30 P.M. – MAGERS & QUINN BOOKSELLERS
 - 3038 Hennepin Ave.  Minneapolis

TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 7:00 P.M.
– COMMON GOOD BOOKS
 - 38 Snelling Ave. S.
– Saint Paul

On-air guests: 

KATHERINE STEWART  - Free-lance Investigative Reporter (The New York TimesThe Guardian, theDaily BeastBloomberg View, and Religion Dispatches); Author, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children.


BETH HAWKINS – Education/Public Policy Reporter/Columnist and Blogger (Learning Curve), MinnPost.com

 


DEREK BIRKELAND – Board Member/Treasurer, Americans United (for Separation of Church and State) – Minnesota

TruthToTell, Monday, June 25−9AM: RELIGION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Will You Speak Up?; TruthToTell, June 18: HEALTHCARE REVOLUTION FOR MINNESOTA: A Unified System Debuts

Remember – call and join the conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post onTruthToTell’s Facebook page.

HELP US BRING YOU THESE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS OF COMMUNITY INTEREST – PLEASE DONATE HERE!

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TruthToTell, Monday, June 25−9AM: RELIGION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Will You Speak Up? - KFAI FM 90.3/106.7/KFAI.org


Time was – back in the 1950s – those of us from Catholic grade schools who found ourselves attending public high schools – in my case Central High School from St. Luke’s Parish (now St. Thomas More) in theArchdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis – religious education was continued by way of what were called “Release” classes. Every Wednesday afternoon, the agreement between the schools and the church allowed Catholic students to be “released” from their class(es) early to walk a few blocks to a Catholic Church (in our case, St. Peter Claver – where the “Black Catholics” go. Still do, but very mixed now), sit around talking some catechism and all that for an hour, then woke up and went home. Probably between ten and twelve showed up each week.

This went on for the first year, perhaps another half-year before I gave up on that nonsense.

Meanwhile, in place of the discredited high school fraternity/sorority system that prevailed in Minnesota until thrown out in the early 50s under a somewhat scandalous shadow, came the Hi-Y (boys) and Y-Teens (girls) clubs established under the rubric of the YMCA and YWCA, respectively. About five to seven clubs for each gender and themselves taking on Greek names (Kappa Hi-Y was the one I joined). Of course, we Catholics were theoretically forbidden to belong to one of these because the Y’s are “Christian” – meaning Protestant (horrors!). The Catholic answer to all this were the CYC’s – Catholic Youth Centers – all put together to keep us Catholic and away from all the others. Our school was St. Paul’s true melting pot. About 80% of the city’s Jewish kids attended Central (you’d know many names) and they had their own groups. The boys belonged to AZA, the girls – B’nai B’rith.

All this to say that religion and religion youth groups have forever been part of a teen’s life in Minnesota’s public schools. But, those organizations, while well-attended and active, were off-campus, and, as far as I know, the elementary schools were out of bounds altogether. No religious group claimed the right to use public school resources or spaces for their religious or social activities. Meetings, classes, social events and dances, etc., were all staged elsewhere and the classrooms were free of such intrusion.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has tracked most of this record of court cases and disputes between churches and state institutions. One of their surveys may shock you:

“Federal courts, …civil libertarians point out, have consistently interpreted the First Amendment's prohibition on the establishment of religion to forbid state sponsorship of prayer and most other religious activities in public schools.

“Despite that long series of court decisions, polls show that large numbers of Americans favor looser, not tighter, limits on religion in public schools. According to an August 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center, more than two-thirds of Americans (69%) agree with the notion that ‘liberals have gone too far in trying to keep religion out of the schools and the government.’ And a clear majority (58%) favor teaching biblical creationism along with evolution in public schools.”

This is shocking news, running counter to Supreme Court rulings dating to 1940 that were clearly designed to separate public schools from intrusive religious credos. Until 2001, when, in a 6-3 decision (Child Evangelism Fellowship [CEF] vs. Milford (NY) Central School), the US Supreme Court threw out a district policy forbidding the use of school property for religious purposes, effectively freezing out CEF from establishing its “Good News Clubs” there. Such a ban violated freedom to promote a viewpoint, said the majority. Outside groups could be banned, but not based on their views. The dissenters rabidly stated that the CEF was using Good News Clubs to proselytize, but the majority said that doesn’t matter. A Minnesota case is pending in the Federal Court of Appeals.

Much of this would no doubt be buried in the arcane business of local school governance and the courts were it not for 1) a series of articles by MinnPost.com’s Education Reporter and Columnist, Beth Hawkins, and 2) a new book by investigative reporter Katherine StewartThe Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. The latter will be in town to appear and sign books and talk about this phenomenon under the auspices of Americans United (for Separation of Church and State). All of this in advance of a Child Evangelism Fellowship strategy conference to be held here in MInneapolis in July.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI will talk with the reporters/authors and an AU representative about the legal history, the political climate and the future of the precedents in the arena of religion on the public schools.

GUESTS:

 KATHERINE STEWART  - Free-lance Investigative Reporter (The New York TimesThe Guardian, theDaily BeastBloomberg View, and Religion Dispatches); Author, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children.


 BETH HAWKINS – Education/Public Policy Reporter/Columnist and Blogger (Learning Curve), MinnPost.com

 

DEREK BIRKELAND – Board Member/Treasurer, Americans United (for Separation of Church and State) – Minnesota

Katherine Stewart presentations and book-signings:

MONDAY, JUNE 25, 7:30 P.M. – MAGERS & QUINN BOOKSELLERS
 - 3038 Hennepin Ave.  Minneapolis

TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 7:00 P.M.
– COMMON GOOD BOOKS
 - 38 Snelling Ave. S.
– Saint Paul

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TruthToTell, June 18: HEALTHCARE REVOLUTION FOR MINNESOTA: A Unified System Debuts - PODCAST HERE


Listen to or download this episode here: 

Facebook: Search TruthToTell; Twitter: @TTTAndyDriscoll; Email: andydriscoll@TruthToTell.org

HELP US BRING YOU THESE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS OF COMMUNITY INTEREST – PLEASE DONATE HERE! 

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Just in time for our next show this Monday on health care comes a StarTribune story about the exponential rise in the number of Minnesotans on Medicaid – to be sure, double the national rate over the last two years, according to Reporter Warren Wolfe’s June 13th article.

Medicaid – not to be confused with Medicare – is the federal health program for the poor, but is handled differently in just about every state. In Minnesota we call it Medical Assistance. Of Minnesota’s population of 5 million folks, fully 733,000 of them are on Medical Assistance to the tune of $4 billion per year. This represents a big jump of 125,000 over the last two years and increases the percentage of us on Medical Assistance to fully 15% of all Minnesota’s people, but big in part because Gov. Mark Dayton added 80,000 to the rolls, thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA).

There’s more to this, but the questions remaining for all of us as the Supreme Courtapproaches a decision on what those who call the ACA “Obamacare,” is what the states’ responsibilities for providing healthcare coverage and access to their citizens, no matter what that decision may be. After all, even if the court throws out one or more of the ACA’s provisions – or the entire law (unlikely) – the need for health coverage for all of us remains as dire as ever.

As it is, most states and health insurers have already implemented many of the law’s provisions – dropping of precondition exclusions, coverage of children up to age 26 under most circumstances, etc. Most major insurers, including Minnesota-based United Healthcare, have no intention of returning to their old ways and exclusions and states have started designing their mandated health exchanges when patients without employer-supplied health plans need some sort of coverage without resorting to the all-too-expensive option of using emergency rooms for routine care.

We know that the public, perhaps even Republicans, support the ACA’s consumer protections:

• Abolishing annual and lifetime caps on benefits paid.

• Ending rescission (dropping people from insurance when they get sick), except in cases of fraud.

• Ending exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

• Ending price discrimination based on gender and medical history. (Higher premiums can still be charged based on tobacco use, age and geographic region.)

• Allowing children to stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26.

• Phasing out Medicare’s “donut hole” (the gap in prescription drug coverage).

• Establishing a minimum medical loss ratio – the percentage of premium that must be spent on health care rather than on administration or profit. (source: Growth&Justice)

Most physicians and consumers support some sort of single-payer system – where our tax dollars would pay for health care that would remain delivered by private providers (like Aspen, HealthPartners, and Allina). Many are suggesting this model would be a Medicare-for-all option. Current administrative costs through even nonprofit private insurers (BlueCross/Blue Shield, HealthPartners, Medica and UCare) amount to almost 30% of every healthcare dollar, whereas the administration of Medicare amounts by law to no more than 2%. How much more efficient would that revision be when another quarter of the healthcare dollar could actually be spent on caring for people.

A new 38-page report from one of Minnesota’s premier progressive voice on state economic issues, Growth & JusticeBeyond the Affordable Care Act: An Economic Analysis of a Unified System of Health Care for Minnesota makes a strong, well documented case for a state-based single-payer system, ACA or no ACA. G&J recommends a “unified system” that takes in many other benefits.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI ask the report’s author and advocates to explain the report’s findings and conclusions, the why of this particular recommendation and what the politics might be toward adoption.

On-air guests: 

DANE SMITH – President, Growth & Justice Policy Developers

AMY LANGE, RN, MS, CNM – Policy Fellow on Health Care, Growth & Justice; Author, Beyond the Affordable Care Act: An Economic Analysis of a Unified System of Health Care for Minnesota

ELIZABETH FROST, MD – Family Physician; Board member, Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP)-Minnesota Chapter; Advocate, Health Care for All-Minnesota

TruthToTell, June 25: RELIGION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Will You Speak Up? - PODCAST is UP HERE

On-air date: 
Mon, 06/25/2012
Listen to or download this episode here: 

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HELP US BRING YOU THESE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS OF COMMUNITY INTEREST – PLEASE DONATE HERE!

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Time was – back in the 1950s – those of us from Catholic grade schools who found ourselves attending public high schools – in my case Central High School from St. Luke’s Parish (now St. Thomas More) in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis – religious education was continued by way of what were called “Release” classes. Every Wednesday afternoon, the agreement between the schools and the church allowed Catholic students to be “released” from their class(es) early to walk a few blocks to a Catholic Church (in our case, St. Peter Claver – where the “Black Catholics” go. Still do, but very mixed now), sit around talking some catechism and all that for an hour, then woke up and went home. Probably between ten and twelve showed up each week.

This went on for the first year, perhaps another half-year before I gave up on that nonsense.

Meanwhile, in place of the discredited high school fraternity/sorority system that prevailed in Minnesota until thrown out in the early 50s under a somewhat scandalous shadow, came the Hi-Y (boys) and Y-Teens (girls) clubs established under the rubric of the YMCA and YWCA, respectively. About five to seven clubs for each gender and themselves taking on Greek names (Kappa Hi-Y was the one I joined). Of course, we Catholics were theoretically forbidden to belong to one of these because the Y’s are “Christian” – meaning Protestant (horrors!). The Catholic answer to all this were the CYC’s – Catholic Youth Centers – all put together to keep us Catholic and away from all the others. Our school was St. Paul’s true melting pot. About 80% of the city’s Jewish kids attended Central (you’d know many names) and they had their own groups. The boys belonged to AZA, the girls – B’nai B’rith.

All this to say that religion and religion youth groups have forever been part of a teen’s life in Minnesota’s public schools. But, those organizations, while well-attended and active, were off-campus, and, as far as I know, the elementary schools were out of bounds altogether. No religious group claimed the right to use public school resources or spaces for their religious or social activities. Meetings, classes, social events and dances, etc., were all staged elsewhere and the classrooms were free of such intrusion.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has tracked most of this record of court cases and disputes between churches and state institutions. One of their surveys may shock you:

“Federal courts, …civil libertarians point out, have consistently interpreted the First Amendment's prohibition on the establishment of religion to forbid state sponsorship of prayer and most other religious activities in public schools.

“Despite that long series of court decisions, polls show that large numbers of Americans favor looser, not tighter, limits on religion in public schools. According to an August 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center, more than two-thirds of Americans (69%) agree with the notion that ‘liberals have gone too far in trying to keep religion out of the schools and the government.’ And a clear majority (58%) favor teaching biblical creationism along with evolution in public schools.”

This is shocking news, running counter to Supreme Court rulings dating to 1940 that were clearly designed to separate public schools from intrusive religious credos. Until 2001, when, in a 6-3 decision (Child Evangelism Fellowship [CEF] vs. Milford (NY) Central School), the US Supreme Court threw out a district policy forbidding the use of school property for religious purposes, effectively freezing out CEF from establishing its “Good News Clubs” there. Such a ban violated freedom to promote a viewpoint, said the majority. Outside groups could be banned, but not based on their views. The dissenters rabidly stated that the CEF was using Good News Clubs to proselytize, but the majority said that doesn’t matter. A Minnesota case is pending in the Federal Court of Appeals.

Much of this would no doubt be buried in the arcane business of local school governance and the courts were it not for 1) a series of articles by MinnPost.com’s Education Reporter and Columnist, Beth Hawkins, and 2) a new book by investigative reporter Katherine Stewart, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. The latter will be in town to appear and sign books and talk about this phenomenon under the auspices of Americans United (for Separation of Church and State). All of this in advance of a Child Evangelism Fellowship strategy conference to be held here in MInneapolis in July.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI will talk with the reporters/authors and an AU representative about the legal history, the political climate and the future of the precedents in the arena of religion on the public schools.

GUESTS:

 KATHERINE STEWART  - Free-lance Investigative Reporter (The New York TimesThe Guardian, theDaily BeastBloomberg View, and Religion Dispatches); Author, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children.


 BETH HAWKINS – Education/Public Policy Reporter/Columnist and Blogger (Learning Curve), MinnPost.com

 


 DEREK BIRKELAND – Board Member/Treasurer, Americans United (for Separation of Church and State) – Minnesota

Katherine Stewart presentations and book-signings:

MONDAY, JUNE 25, 7:30 P.M. – MAGERS & QUINN BOOKSELLERS
 - 3038 Hennepin Ave.  Minneapolis

TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 7:00 P.M.
– COMMON GOOD BOOKS
 - 38 Snelling Ave. S.
– Saint Paul

TruthToTell, Mon.,Oct 3@9AM: CABLE ACCESS: Media Whipping Child?

Date: 
Mon, 10/03/2011 - 9:00am

WATCH this week's program HERE.

HELP US BRING YOU THESE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS OF COMMUNITY INTEREST – PLEASE DONATE HERE.

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Thirty years ago, Minnesota was immersed in what was then called the cable wars.

Before cable television came along – and most people born after 1980 barely remember this – all television programming was limited to whatever your feeble antennas, be they the old rabbit ears on top of your television sets or a rooftop structure, pulled in a very few available number of channels for family viewing. The Twin Cities had four VHF outlets and a couple of UHF stations. The cable wars descended on all urban centers mostly during 1978 and 1979, and the Twin Cities was as hot a market as it got for helping to select a cable company to haul in more than 50 or 60 channels at the time – many more came later – a money-making machine for the selected company, if ever there was one.

Much of the history of this episodic adventure is detailed on Andy’s blog at TruthToTell.org/Blog, so we won’t wax on about that here - but needless to say, it was a political and financial brouhaha the likes of which had probably never been seen in these parts before. Politicians and city fathers and well-heeled business people were in the thick of the money and influence-peddling to win the heady competition for those exclusive franchises to wire the cities and suburbs for the multitude of services we now take for granted – like HBO, Showtime, CNN, C-SPAN, ESPN, Fox Cable and MSNBC, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and everything in between and beyond.

Along with all those commercial channels cable companies offered were a half-dozen or so channels devoted to public, educational and government use – PEG services or channels. They were given over to communities after local activists and nonprofits raised hell about the license to print money this new technology would bring to the winning cable corporations. Elected officials, courted and cajoled by untold numbers of contributors and business types, as well, rose to the hue and cry and, with the help of city franchise consultants, extracted promises of money, equipment and channels to use for bringing otherwise unheard community voices into homes and institutions throughout a given city service area.

But cable companies agreed to what they viewed as blackmail through gritted teeth and promised the moon to each franchise authority – that is, a city or group of cities, usually councils or groups of elected officials – in return for the nod to put up their lucrative cable systems.

Thus were created public cable access authorities of several varieties, some independent, some controlled by city cable regulators, some by city councils, aided by a now-defunct state cable communications commission organized to prescribe the way franchise agreements could be drawn, including the provision of cable access services.

But real cable access often means the airing of free-speech programs that may well criticize those same local authorities. even as those same authorities now broadcast their hearings meetings live over their very own government channels. Discontented citizens get a chance to shoot and air their own shows, some of which make the public and councilors cringe. In Minneapolis, where the cable access corporation is controlled almost directly by the City Council, despite having its own board of directors, some cable programs have gone for the official jugular on a fairly regular basis – rankling those same elected officials and rattling the cages of other city officials.

Not for the first time, but perhaps not so violently, the Minneapolis Mayor’s Budget, and some on the City Council, seem hell-bent on slicing and dicing the city’s own cable access group – the Minneapolis Telecommunications Network, or MTN. Recent articles in the local papers and online peg (pardon the pun) the recommended cut at $250,000, no small chunk – 40%, to be sure – of MTN’s total budget of just over $700,000. Will the Minneapolis City Council restore the budget? And can MTN be put on a more independent footing, able to develop resources beyond the franchise and PEG fees now subject to the city's largesse? What can YOU do about this? Listen in below.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and KATEY DeCELLE talk with several of those in charge of and affected by MTN’s operations as well as some comparing MTN to the St. Paul Neighborhood Network's (SPNN) arrangement with that city and its Comcast company (also the Minneapolis supplier now).

Andy's Blog: CABLE ACCESS: Media Whipping Child? - The Long Background

To watch or hear TruthToTell's program on this topic of funding cable access which aired live on October 3rd, click HERE.

In the late 1970’s and early 80’s, a fairly large number of cable companies were suddenly formed to provide cable television service to large urban areas. Technology innovations and the new, vastly expanded numbers of channels and cable programming capacity spawned an explosion in the highly profitable business of providing television shows of ever widening varieties to the densely populated urban centers. For years, cable (or CATV) was a creature of remote rural areas where over-the-air television signals from distant broadcasters simply could not be pulled in with home television sets alone. They needed very high towers and antennas to receive those signals then retransmit them to small town residences.

This was a technological gold rush that meant billions in future revenues as entertainment and information channel multiplied exponentially. Cable companies came forward in great quantities, hiring local politicians and influential citizens by the thousands to represent them or lobby for their selection as a given city’s or city cluster’s exclusive vendor to wire the urban core and beyond. Some states quickly passed laws to regulate them.

The huge potential for these massive money-making machines in all the major cities, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, created a tidal wave of applications from cable operators to string their coaxial cables up and down the rights of way just as telephone companies and electric utilities had nearly a century earlier. That meant a major pay-off to cities or groups of cities or suburbs through the franchise fees collected from using those rights of way, fees similar to those also paid by the other utilities.

Such a latent revenue windfall to local coffers also brought community communications  advocates out of the woodwork and into the highly competitive and money-loaded franchising process. Most of the franchising agreements offered by cable companies promised copious amounts of money, equipment and numbers of channels for public, educational and governmental access. Cities hired cable administrators and created cable communications departments.

That the promise of a tidal wave of community programming and hundreds of access producers in thousands of local institutions was thwarted by a variety of problems confronting the organizations and cities overseeing their governance, operation and production capabilities was but one cluster of barriers to real access.

But local egos and power manipulations among interested groups were nothing compared to the relative immediacy of many large cable operators across the urban and metropolitan landscape suddenly challenging their young franchise agreements in court as imposing on their First Amendment rights to operate without regulation at all. They quickly saw just how much more money they could make if they weren’t saddled with keeping their own promises to put money, equipment and studios into the hands of common citizens or to give up lucrative channels to non-paying customers.

The industry spent millions seeking nullification of their regulatory shackles at the city level, especially. Some courts concurred. Others did not, but the upshot was that the reins of control AND of at least some access channels among the hundreds of others earning billions for local cable companies and their exclusive right to pipe increasingly expensive signals throughout the city, began slipping away, much as broadcasting became deregulated under the FCC. Cable companies also merged by the dozens, creating about three or four huge cable conglomerates, like Comcast here in Minnesota. Not much is owned by anyone else around here.

Of course, real access meant shackle-free programs – programs presenting individual opinions or sometimes tasteless shows, some quite offensive to some viewer sensibilities. And some went after the very elected officials who control access budgets or franchise fee distributions each year – sort of biting the hand, as it were.

But not all. Some institutions – like those in education, faith communities and labor – set up regularly produced and widely viewed programs of instruction or commentary or services. Cities themselves have created elaborate cable telecasting operations – feeding their designated channels with city council and committee meetings and public hearings.

And most cable access corporations – like Minneapolis Telecommunications Network – or MTN - and St. Paul Neighborhood Network (or SPNN) – wound up taking over franchise-mandated local origination, or community programming duties the cable companies themselves gladly gave up – the professional side of cable access.

Urban and suburban cable access nonprofits have toiled in  the trenches under increasing pressure to cut back, even though cities based their franchise approvals on the very idea that community channels and production facilities would be provided. With much distance – 30 years in some cases – twixt cup and the lip – between original franchise agreements and today. Despite continued attempts at deregulating local cable, franchise fees have held or increased while cable access funding has retreated, leaving cable access organizations to fend more and more for themselves, mostly through grants and user fees – assessed nonprofits who want the cable access group to produce programs or provide studio time and talent to do so themselves.

Minneapolis is one city where the purse strings are in solid control of the mayor and city council, essentially making MTN a city department, subject to the political whims of its overseers almost as much as its appropriation. If powerful city politicians wish to express their disdain for an entity like MTN which allows First-Amendment-protected criticism or R-Rated content to air, they may well – and perhaps have – made it tougher and tougher for MTN to live up to its mission as giving voice to its many community voices – some of which are the voices of discontent with the status quo in City Hall.

TruthToTell, Mon.,Oct 3@9AM: CABLE ACCESS: Media Whipping Child? - KFAI FM 90.3/106.7/KFAI.org

TRUTHTOTELL, MON.,OCT 3@9AM: CABLE ACCESS: MEDIA WHIPPING CHILD? - KFAI FM 90.3/106.7/KFAI.ORG

IN THE LATE 1970’S AND EARLY 80’S, A FAIRLY LARGE NUMBER OF CABLE COMPANIES WERE SUDDENLY FORMED TO PROVIDE CABLE TELEVISION SERVICE TO LARGE URBAN AREAS. TECHNOLOGY INNOVATIONS AND THE NEW, VASTLY EXPANDED NUMBERS OF CHANNELS AND CABLE PROGRAMMING CAPACITY SPAWNED AN EXPLOSION IN THE HIGHLY PROFITABLE BUSINESS OF PROVIDING TELEVISION SHOWS OF EVER WIDENING VARIETIES TO THE DENSELY POPULATED URBAN CENTERS. FOR YEARS, CABLE (OR CATV) WAS A CREATURE OF REMOTE RURAL AREAS WHERE OVER-THE-AIR TELEVISION SIGNALS FROM DISTANT BROADCASTERS SIMPLY COULD NOT BE PULLED IN WITH HOME TELEVISION SETS ALONE. THEY NEEDED VERY HIGH TOWERS AND ANTENNAS TO RECEIVE THOSE SIGNALS THEN RETRANSMIT THEM TO SMALL TOWN RESIDENCES.

THIS WAS A TECHNOLOGICAL GOLD RUSH THAT MEANT BILLIONS IN FUTURE REVENUES AS ENTERTAINMENT AND INFORMATION CHANNEL MULTIPLIED EXPONENTIALLY. CABLE COMPANIES CAME FORWARD IN GREAT QUANTITIES, HIRING LOCAL POLITICIANS AND INFLUENTIAL CITIZENS BY THE THOUSANDS TO REPRESENT THEM OR LOBBY FOR THEIR SELECTION AS A GIVEN CITY’S OR CITY CLUSTER’S EXCLUSIVE VENDOR TO WIRE THE URBAN CORE AND BEYOND. SOME STATES QUICKLY PASSED LAWS TO REGULATE THEM.

THE HUGE POTENTIAL FOR THESE MASSIVE MONEY-MAKING MACHINES IN ALL THE MAJOR CITIES, INCLUDING MINNEAPOLIS AND ST. PAUL, CREATED A TIDAL WAVE OF APPLICATIONS FROM CABLE OPERATORS TO STRING THEIR COAXIAL CABLES UP AND DOWN THE RIGHTS OF WAY JUST AS TELEPHONE COMPANIES AND ELECTRIC UTILITIES HAD NEARLY A CENTURY EARLIER. THAT MEANT A MAJOR PAY-OFF TO CITIES OR GROUPS OF CITIES OR SUBURBS THROUGH THE FRANCHISE FEES COLLECTED FROM USING THOSE RIGHTS OF WAY, FEES SIMILAR TO THOSE ALSO PAID BY THE OTHER UTILITIES.

AND MOST CABLE ACCESS CORPORATIONS – LIKE MINNEAPOLIS TELECOMMUNICATIONS NETWORK – OR MTN - AND ST. PAUL NEIGHBORHOOD NETWORK (SPNN) – WOUND UP TAKING OVER FRANCHISE-MANDATED LOCAL ORIGINATION, OR COMMUNITY PROGRAMMING DUTIES THE CABLE COMPANIES THEMSELVES GLADLY GAVE UP – THE PROFESSIONAL SIDE OF CABLE ACCESS.

URBAN AND SUBURBAN CABLE ACCESS NONPROFITS HAVE TOILED IN THE TRENCHES UNDER INCREASING PRESSURE TO CUT BACK, EVEN THOUGH CITIES BASED THEIR FRANCHISE APPROVALS ON THE VERY IDEA THAT COMMUNITY CHANNELS AND PRODUCTION FACILITIES WOULD BE PROVIDED. WITH MUCH DISTANCE – 30 YEARS IN SOME CASES – TWIXT CUP AND THE LIP – BETWEEN ORIGINAL FRANCHISE AGREEMENTS AND TODAY. DESPITE CONTINUED ATTEMPTS AT DEREGULATING LOCAL CABLE, FRANCHISE FEES HAVE HELD OR INCREASED WHILE CABLE ACCESS FUNDING HAS RETREATED, LEAVING CABLE ACCESS ORGANIZATIONS TO FEND MORE AND MORE FOR THEMSELVES, MOSTLY THROUGH GRANTS AND USER FEES – ASSESSED NONPROFITS WHO WANT THE CABLE ACCESS GROUP TO PRODUCE PROGRAMS OR PROVIDE STUDIO TIME AND TALENT TO DO SO THEMSELVES.

MINNEAPOLIS IS ONE CITY WHERE THE PURSE STRINGS ARE IN SOLID CONTROL OF THE MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL, ESSENTIALLY MAKING MTN A CITY DEPARTMENT, SUBJECT TO THE POLITICAL WHIMS OF ITS OVERSEERS ALMOST AS MUCH AS ITS APPROPRIATION. IF POWERFUL CITY POLITICIANS WISH TO EXPRESS THEIR DISDAIN FOR AN ENTITY LIKE MTN WHICH ALLOWS FIRST-AMENDMENT-PROTECTED CRITICISM OR R-RATED CONTENT TO AIR, THEY MAY WELL – AND PERHAPS HAVE – MADE IT TOUGHER AND TOUGHER FOR MTN TO LIVE UP TO ITS MISSION AS GIVING VOICE TO ITS MANY COMMUNITY VOICES – SOME OF WHICH ARE THE VOICES OF DISCONTENT WITH THE STATUS QUO IN CITY HALL.

THINGS ARE A BIT DIFFERENT IN ST. PAUL, AND WE’LL TALK ABOUT HOW AS WE EXPLORE WHETHER THE PROPOSED MINNEAPOLIS BUDGET’S $250,000 SLICE OUT OF MTN’S BUDGET IS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED OR OTHERWISE JUSTIFIED.

TTT’S ANDY DRISCOLL AND MICHELLE ALIMORADI TALK WITH SEVERAL OF THOSE AFFECTED AND IN CHARGE OF MTN’S OPERATIONS AS WELL AS COMPARING MTN TO SPNN IN ST. PAUL.

GUESTS:

GARY SCHIFF – MINNEAPOLIS WARD 9 CITY COUNCILMEMBER & CHAIR, CITY COUNCIL WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE

PAM COLBY – EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MINNEAPOLIS TELECOMMUNICATIONS NETWORK (MTN)

FARHIO KHALIS – PROGRAM PRODUCER, MTN

MIKE WASSENAAR – EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ST. PAUL NEIGHBORHOOD NETWORK (SPNN)

ROBERT J. V. VOSE – ATTORNEY, KENNEDY & GRAVEN, CHARTERED, LOCAL GOVERNMENT TELECOMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST; FORMER MTN BOARD MEMBER

FIRST PERSON RADIO-SEP 28: LARRY LONG: TROUBADOUR-VOICE OF JUSTICE - LISTEN HERE


FIRST PERSON RADIO'S LAURA WATERMAN WITTSTOCK TALKS WITH LARRY LONG, EXTRAORDINARY COMPOSER AND MUSICIAN WHO HAS BEEN PART OF THE INDIAN COMMUNITY FOR DECADES. HIS MUSIC AND ABILITY TO ENGAGE INDIAN CHILDREN IN SONG MAKING ARE LEGENDARY. LARRY WILL TALK ABOUT HIS LIFE AND WORK, AND INTRODUCE HIS NEW RELEASE: "DON'T STAND STILL."

LARRY LONG, CALLED "A TRUE AMERICAN TROUBADOUR" BY AUTHOR STUDS TERKEL, HAS MADE HIS LIFE WORK THE CELEBRATION OF AMERICAN STORIES AND HEROES. IN A CURRICULUM CALLED ELDERS’ WISDOM, CHILDREN’S SONG,™ HE HAS BROUGHT THESE HEROES TO THE CLASSROOM TO SHARE THEIR ORAL HISTORY WITH OUR YOUNGER GENERATION. THE CHILDREN THEN GO ON TO CREATE SONGS AND LYRICAL WORK THAT CELEBRATE THE HISTORY AND TRIUMPHS OF THEIR OWN COMMUNITIES AND LEARN IN THE PROCESS TO HONOR THE STRUGGLES OF DIFFERENT CULTURES.

"LARRY LONG IS DOING WHAT MORE SINGERS AND SONGWRITERS 
SHOULD BE DOING: USING MUSIC TO HELP PEOPLE LEARN 
TO WORK TOGETHER, AND BRING A WORLD OF PEACE."  —PETE SEEGER

NOW A SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS RECORDING ARTIST, LARRY HAS SUNG AT MAJOR FESTIVALS, CONCERTS AND EVENTS THROUGHOUT THE U.S. AND INTERNATIONALLY. LONG IS A RECIPIENT OF THE PRESTIGIOUS BUSH ARTISTS FELLOWSHIP, THE POPE JOHN XXIII AWARD AND IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE AWARD; AND A PARENT’S CHOICE AWARD FOR PRODUCING WITH THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER, I WILL BE YOUR FRIEND, A SONGS AND ACTIVITIES BOOK FOR YOUNG PEACEMAKERS.

HE HAS WORKED IN SOUTHERN RURAL COMMUNITIES COMBINING BLACK, WHITE, NATIVE AMERICAN AND LATIN STORIES. IN THE MID-1980S HE ASSEMBLED THE FIRST HOMETOWN TRIBUTE TO WOODY GUTHRIE IN OKEMAH, OKLAHOMA, WHICH TODAY HAS EVOLVED INTO A LARGE, FREE FESTIVAL WITH AN ARRAY OF ESTABLISHED AND UPCOMING ARTISTS.

LARRY'S NEW RELEASE IS AVAILABLE AT HTTP://WWW.LARRYLONG.ORG/.


TruthToTell Oct 3: CABLE ACCESS: Media Whipping Child? - Listen Below

On-air date: 
Mon, 10/03/2011

WATCH this week's program HERE.

HELP US BRING YOU THESE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS OF COMMUNITY INTEREST – PLEASE DONATE HERE.

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Thirty years ago, Minnesota was immersed in what was then called the cable wars.

Before cable television came along – and most people born after 1980 barely remember this – all television programming was limited to whatever your feeble antennas, be they the old rabbit ears on top of your television sets or a rooftop structure, pulled in a very few available number of channels for family viewing. The Twin Cities had four VHF outlets and a couple of UHF stations. The cable wars descended on all urban centers mostly during 1978 and 1979, and the Twin Cities was as hot a market as it got for helping to select a cable company to haul in more than 50 or 60 channels at the time – many more came later – a money-making machine for the selected company, if ever there was one.

Much of the history of this episodic adventure is detailed on Andy’s blog at TruthToTell.org/Blog, so we won’t wax on about that here - but needless to say, it was a political and financial brouhaha the likes of which had probably never been seen in these parts before. Politicians and city fathers and well-heeled business people were in the thick of the money and influence-peddling to win the heady competition for those exclusive franchises to wire the cities and suburbs for the multitude of services we now take for granted – like HBO, Showtime, CNN, C-SPAN, ESPN, Fox Cable and MSNBC, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and everything in between and beyond.

Along with all those commercial channels cable companies offered were a half-dozen or so channels devoted to public, educational and government use – PEG services or channels. They were given over to communities after local activists and nonprofits raised hell about the license to print money this new technology would bring to the winning cable corporations. Elected officials, courted and cajoled by untold numbers of contributors and business types, as well, rose to the hue and cry and, with the help of city franchise consultants, extracted promises of money, equipment and channels to use for bringing otherwise unheard community voices into homes and institutions throughout a given city service area.

But cable companies agreed to what they viewed as blackmail through gritted teeth and promised the moon to each franchise authority – that is, a city or group of cities, usually councils or groups of elected officials – in return for the nod to put up their lucrative cable systems.

Thus were created public cable access authorities of several varieties, some independent, some controlled by city cable regulators, some by city councils, aided by a now-defunct state cable communications commission organized to prescribe the way franchise agreements could be drawn, including the provision of cable access services.

But real cable access often means the airing of free-speech programs that may well criticize those same local authorities. even as those same authorities now broadcast their hearings meetings live over their very own government channels. Discontented citizens get a chance to shoot and air their own shows, some of which make the public and councilors cringe. In Minneapolis, where the cable access corporation is controlled almost directly by the City Council, despite having its own board of directors, some cable programs have gone for the official jugular on a fairly regular basis – rankling those same elected officials and rattling the cages of other city officials.

Not for the first time, but perhaps not so violently, the Minneapolis Mayor’s Budget, and some on the City Council, seem hell-bent on slicing and dicing the city’s own cable access group – the Minneapolis Telecommunications Network, or MTN. Recent articles in the local papers and online peg (pardon the pun) the recommended cut at $250,000, no small chunk – 40%, to be sure – of MTN’s total budget of just over $700,000. Will the Minneapolis City Council restore the budget? And can MTN be put on a more independent footing, able to develop resources beyond the franchise and PEG fees now subject to the city's largesse? What can YOU do about this? Listen in below.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and KATEY DeCELLE talk with several of those in charge of and affected by MTN’s operations as well as some comparing MTN to the St. Paul Neighborhood Network's (SPNN) arrangement with that city and its Comcast company (also the Minneapolis supplier now).

GUESTS:

GARY SCHIFF – Minneapolis Ward 9 City Councilmember & Chair, City Council Ways & Means Committee

PAM COLBY – Executive Director, Minneapolis Telecommunications Network (MTN)

MIKE WASSENAAR – Executive Director, St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN)

ROBERT J. V. VOSE – Attorney, Kennedy & Graven, Chartered, Local Government Telecommunications Specialist; former MTN Board Member


45:26 minutes (41.59 MB)

TruthToTell, Monday, Sept 19-9AM: TEACHERS AND TENURE: Achievement, Contracts, Certification

Remember – call and join the conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post onTruthToTell’s Facebook page.

Watch us from Studio 5! TruthToTell is now seen live on Livestream and later on Blip.tv or in iTunes

HELP US BRING YOU THESE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS OF COMMUNITY INTEREST – PLEASE DONATE HERE!

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TruthToTell, Monday, Sept 19-9AM: TEACHERS AND TENURE: Achievement, Contracts, Certification - KFAI FM 90.3/106.7/KFAI.org

Education in Minnesota seems ever in upheaval. Well, everywhere. Witness the assault on teaching and teachers by Tea Partiers over the last year or so, resulting in several states going after teacher pay, benefits and general rights. Major changes have been installed in the schools over the last year or two or more. Teachers, parents and administrators in all districts, especially, face renewed pressures to build in reliable systems for teacher accountability and, in core city systems in particular, aimed at significantly narrowing the well-known achievement gaps between students of color and their white counterparts, but also improving learning overall, what with recent math and reading scores hitting historic lows nationally.

Several perceived remedies have been passed by the State Legislature, including:

•  alternative licensing and certification of professionals outside the system to enter the classroom – with proper supervision (since teaching methods are themselves are part and parcel of the field);

• despite many doubts and failures, charter schools continue their increases in numbers as alternatives for parents concerned with system schools;

• private and nonprofit teachers corps, such as Teach for America have been introduced to Minnesota, permitting newly graduated semi-volunteers to enter our classrooms for a couple of years’ service, then depart.

• teacher tenure has come under fire, especially when teachers’ union contracts ensure seniority as the time-tested safety net for teachers, good and bad.

Minneapolis is in the midst of contract negotiations and some parents and activists are stepping up and insisting on historic shifts in how teachers are evaluated and whether contracts should use only seniority to release or retain teachers or base tenure on some combination of seniority and competence and other criteria. It’s possible Minneapolis will become the bellwether for contractual reform.

TTT’S ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI examine these issues with our guests this week.

GUESTS:

REP. CARLOS MARIANI-ROSA – DFL Lead, Minnesota House Education Reform Committee, Member of Education Finance Committee and Executive Director, Minnesota Minority Education Partnership (MMEP)

MARY CECCONI – Executive Director, Parents United for Public Schools

LYNNELL MICKELSEN – Minneapolis Education Parent Activist; Blogger (Put Kids First Minneapolis); Editorialist and former Co-host, TruthToTell

LOUISE SUNDIN, President Emeritus and Lobbyist, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers; Trustee, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities; Executive Vice President of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.

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First Person Radio, Weds, Sept 14: ROBERT DESJARLAIT: Ojibwe Artist-Manoomin Advocate Audio HERE

Robert Desjarlait is Ojibwe-Anishinabe from Red Lake, Minnesota. He is a co-founder of Protect Our Manoomin – a Minnesota Anishinaabe grassroots organization that informs and educates on mining and its effects on manoomin. DesJarlait is involved as a facilitator for White Bison Wellbriety groups in the Twin Cities. He is a journalist and has written for The Circle Newspaper. He is also a member of the University of Minnesota Council of Elders.

First Person Radio's Laura Waterman Wittstock with Andy Driscoll get an update on the wild rice and other highly sensitive environmental issues threatening the survival of wild rice in the Upper Midwest ricing areas in Minnesota. Wild Rice - Mahnoomin - is one of the sacred foods of the Anishinabe. It has been harvested by environmentally protected processes for centuries by the Dakota and Anishinabe peoples.