Porterville LGBT Group Launched to Oppose Rescinding City’s First Ever Pro-Equality Proclamation

First pride month, Porterville CA First Pride Month Proclaimed June 4, 2013 By Porterville City Council, political efforts to rescind immediately follow[/caption]

Porterville, CA – Residents have launched Porterville Equality and Fairness For All (PEFA), a coalition of local LGBT organizations and allies, opposing the efforts of some city councilmembers to rescind a historic proclamation declaring June “LGBT Pride Month” in the city. The proclamation was issued on June 4th by Mayor Virginia Gurrola recognizing the significant contributions of the LGBT community in Porterville.

“Mayor Gurrola took a brave stand against discrimination by supporting a proclamation acknowledging the significant contributions of the LGBT community in Porterville, and for that we thank her,” said Barry Caplan, Coordinator of PEFA. “Now, some on the council find it necessary to rescind the proclamation, thereby rescinding acknowledgment of the city’s LGBT residents.”

June is celebrated as LGBT Month nation and statewide. On June 4th, Mayor Virginia Gurrola issued a Proclamation honoring the LGBT community for its longstanding volunteer work in mental health and other areas that has benefited the entire community.

Despite the routine of all councilmembers signing proclamations recognizing community members, every member of the council, except for Mayor Gurrola refused to follow standard protocol. They refused to shake the hands of the recipients and refused to sign the proclamation.

Council Members Brian Ward and Greg Shelton have agendized revisiting the Proclamation at the upcoming council meeting on June 18. Shelton aims to discuss the “process” of the Proclamation, despite Porterville’s process being the same or substantially the same as every other City in California. Ward proposes to rescind the Proclamation mid-month, and to replace it with a Resolution declaring “A Month Of Community Charity and Goodwill For All in Porterville”.

Porterville and its Council has a long history of anti-LGBT activism. In 2008 during the Prop 8 campaign, Ward offered a Resolution in favor of Prop 8, urging locals to vote to remove rights from themselves in order to harm a disfavored minority.… Read the rest

Business model options for small local daily papers

Claudia Elliot, ex-Editor of the Porterville Recorder, our local paper, and current Editor and General Manager at Tehachapi News joined a facebook discussion on the Recorder’s page today. The discussion is regarding the usefulness, appropriateness, and value of online news delivery of news vs. sticking with traditional print distribution and she asked the insightful question:

Have to wonder, what would a person be willing to pay for such a service — people who go out and gather news and take photos and develop and maintain an infrastructure for others to be able to access? What would most people be willing to pay?

I responded:

One that has not been asked here before!

My own sense is that there are a couple of suppositions in that question that should be considered:

1) Do people in Porterville read local news at all? Clearly many don’t. That’s kind of a shame. I (and probably you) wish it was 100%. But it isn’t, and there are a lot of socio-econoimic reasons for that mostly beyond the control of the paper.

2) Whether people read local news or not, they increasingly get their news online, and the demographic of folks still wedded to the print edition are probably older and so it won’t last forever.

3) The idea that people have paid for “news” in the past is an open question in the industry, as you might know. Some posit that people paid for the ads, the gossip, the entertainment, the comics, the puzzles, and that the news was incidental. At least after say ~120 years ago when comics and modern advertising were invented.

4) So it may well be that adverting as a sustaining source of revenue may not ever support a news-only site. And as for those other categories of information online, it is already clear people won’t be looking ot newspaper sites for them in any appreciable amount.… Read the rest

Newcomer Virgina Gurrola selected as Mayor

Cameron Hamilton and Brian Ward Bypassed for Leadership Roles

Porterville Recorder describes swearing in ceremony for new Council

Congratulations to new Mayor Gurrola and Vice Mayor McCracken.

Let’s let the rejection of the most divisive members of Council, who once may have been seen as “next in line” for these two positions, serve as a signal that the time for divisive policies of Council is past.

Let the new Council proclaim a New Day by rejecting the damaging and divisive 2008 Prop 8 Resolution, perhaps doping so indirectly by re-affirming the 2003 Patriot Act Resolution affirming the existing rights and the willingness to protect them against the intrusion all government bodies.

Porterville will be a thousand times better off for doing so as quickly as possible.… Read the rest

Patriotic Cake – A Porterville Portrait

Dorothea Lange, Porterville, near the scene of Patrotic Cake, 2012

In which we attend City Council so you don’t have to – but we wish you did!

Curious that both Brian Ward and Greg Shelton were not at the public session of City Council’s meeting last night.

I know that Shelton was present at City Hall, as I was hanging around outside near where his distinctive truck was parked.

I don’t know for sure that Ward was there or not.

City Attorney Lew reported that action was taken on one item, I think she mentioned it was 3-0, but she seemed unsure as to how to report it.

It was announced that Ward and Shelton would not be present for the remainder as they were both “sick”.

This was interesting because this meeting was the one meeting of the year where it was critical to pass the budget, and you would think both men would want their votes attached to the results, as this is one of the most important votes of the whole year.

During public comments, it was requested that the vote be postponed until the men are present, but it went on anyway as there was a quorum, and McCracken asked for clarification from City Attorney Lew that the budget had to be passed by June 30th by the City Charter.

She affirmed that, and Hamilton indicated “we know how they feel anyway” and the vote was held.

Certainly other meetings have had items continued or otherwise procedurally postponed until a specially scheduled meeting only a week later.

Such a delayed meeting would have still brought the vote in before June 30th, and left all of the Councilman as being on the record as to their votes on the all-important Budget.

And there is already hardball being played with next years budget, as one of the other items last night involved broken negotiations with the lowest paid bargaining unit at City Hall.… Read the rest

Porterville is a Christian City, locals and officials insist

Local citizen offended by pending  non-Christian invocation at City Council, affirms “Porterville is a Christian City

Yesterday I read in the Recorder that 17 cities will start their council meetings with a reading from Hindu Sand Script. This shocked me. Here in a nation that was founded by Christians with Christian principles, with a ceremony to dedicate this nation to God on the shores of this nation.

This discussion broke out online too over the weekend, worth reading indeed for the extensive duplicity of Porterville’s newly re-elected Councilman Cameron Hamilton.

I guess all the Jews, Singhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Wiccans, (arguably) Mormons, Native Americans, and people of many other or no religions at all are only allowed to live in Porterville due to the goodness of the local Christians. Good to know where at least some of the locals stand on this matter.… Read the rest

Local paper “disturbed” by low turnout, does not understand own role

…but I am not too shy to tell them some of the reasons:

See article here

Why didn’t people vote, especially when the city council made headlines more than once in the past year for antics better left to a vaudeville show or a sitcom.

Easy answer: Because the Recorder has abdicated its civic reporting responsibilities many times:

1) You posted a video of a TCSO officer misbehaving and admitting that he knew he was misbehaving. That was good. But it only lasted about 24 hours as a more senior TCSO officer asked the paper to pull the video, which you promptly did.

2) You have never pressed Councilmembers, especially those running for election on any controversial matters. The town has been hurt for almost 4 years as a result of Ward and Hamilton working to take away the rights of gays. And Hamilton’s flip-flop from his 2003 vote, when he pledged Council to work against what he urged the 2008 Council to do has never been reported. In fact, the Recorder took the page offline that reported the 9/2003 meeting I refer to.

3) Hamilton again: You have never followed up regarding his odd behavior during the arrest of the previous publisher of the Recorder.

4) You have never reported on the discovery, made quite plain on the Recorder facebook page by Case Lok and others, that Rodney Martin had posted materials with his view on the impropriety (to day the least) of the mixing of races in public and homophobic reasons why he homeschools his kids. Not only ought that have been news, but why he never mentioned it in his campaign ought to have been news as well.

5) You have never run or lent your voice to a sustained voter registration drive or get out the vote drive.… Read the rest

Tulare County Election Official sort-of responds to Story

Earlier, I described the conditions at a polling place in a Church in Porterville today.

Later upon returning home to write these news stories, I decided to find the document that I was told I could find online: the “Elections Official Digest”, which was present at the polling place, but I was not allowed to inspect to see if it really had rules against photography that were being enforced by the local volunteers.

I did not find the document at the County Elections Board web site.

So I went on to my next task, to contact an official for an on-the-record explanation.

I was directed to Ann Turner, Election Division Manager who agreed to answer my questions on the record. Apparently she was familiar with the earlier incident.

I asked her what the Board’s policy was regarding crosses in church polling places and how it related to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

She responded by saying that she did not know the election code front to back, but that  there was no conflict with the First, with a litany of reasons as to why there might be a cross or a church as a polling place, among them: the Board has no control over the layout of the room, they have to rent buildings for the election and locations are hard to come by, no one is trying to impose religion.

I asked her if it  County Counsel supported those reasons and I could rely on them on the record, or if they were unofficial viewpoints.

Suddenly she was not interested in continuing. I asked her if her quotes were still “on-the-record”, giving her a few chances to regroup. In the end, she did not retract the reasons and remained on the record, but she did not want to answer any more questions.… Read the rest

First Amendment Rights Violated at California Polling Place

[Update: Election Official Reponds – sort of ]
Today I went to vote in the primary election in Porterville, CA. My local precinct happens to be at a nearby church.

The voting takes place in a small social hall, not the sanctuary.

However, each time I have voted there, including today, there has been a floor-to-ceiling cross located there, dominating the view from every point in the room.

When I arrived, I politely asked to take a picture, with the dual intent of documenting the situation so I could file a complaint with the County election board, and also to illustrate a news story on this blog regarding the situation.

The volunteers there told me I could not take a picture, even if no voters were present, and even if no volunteers were in the picture.

I asked for clarification as to this rule’s source and citation and none was forthcoming.

So I called the elections board myself, and eventually a volunteer inspector arrived and was surprised both at the size of the cross and at the refusal to allow me to take pictures.

The rules cited by the elections board in the “Election Officer Digest” did address photos with voters in them, as did a brief guide for poll observers: not without consent of the voters. I was told the Digest was available online, but on returning home I have not been able to locate it on the County Election Board web site.

But it was my intent to not have voters in the picture, or even in the polling place, as it was pretty slow, so I didn’t think this applied, and neither did the inspector.

The observer guide did say that “media is allowed to film or interview voters if they consent”.

If this rule applies, and hinges on if I can “film”, I could have taken video instead of still pictures with my camera.… Read the rest

How Cam Hamilton and Brian Ward have tied the hands of Economic Development Staff, and cost Porterville jobs and tax revenues for 4 years, and a simple solution at the end

How is it that Porterville’s economic development is hurt by its Council’s flip-flop between 2003 and 2008 on the advisability of the protection of Rights of citizens from government intervention?

Part 1:

Here is the article that describes the 2003 public hearing now-Mayor Roh Irish was absent from and the Council’s holding up the vote so he could be present. I don’t have any beef with him not being present, life happens. And I don’t have any beef with Council wanting to give him a chance to weigh in.

http://www.recorderonline.com/sections/search/?q=patriot+act+resolution&fistype=site&x=0&y=0

The article that describes the vote and containse the text of the resolution is no longer searchable on the Recorder’s web site. It used to be, but is gone now, I can only speculate as to why, maybe because I have raised this issue in the past. Rick Elkins has avoided answering my question as to why, and I have no idea why that is. (Not that it would be the first content to disappear while he was the editor, but that is a different matter)

No matter, the text or the Resolution is available elsewhere:

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2003/09/12/16448441.php (also contains a report of the meeting including some of Irish’s actions)

Text of the Resolution only: http://www.bordc.org/detail.php?id=85

By contrast, here is the report of the meeting on the Prop 8 Resolution and the text of the Resolution(when Mayor Irish was not on Council 5 years almost to the day later!): http://www.recorderonline.com/news/porterville-38329-state-prop.html

Please read those Resolutions over, and you will see that Council voted for both unanimously, Cam Hamilton was on both Councils, Irish was on the first, and that one clearly affirms the rights of all citizens should not be limited by government, and the second calls for government (the people of California being the 4th branch) to do just that.

Independent of you the reader’s opinion on Prop 8 or gay rights or any of that, can we agree so far that this was the opposite intents of the two Resolutions?… Read the rest

Marine Band Plays Patriotic Pieces in Porterville

Crowd Whipped Into A Frenzy.

On Wednesday night, the President’s Own United States Marine Band produced a colorful and patriotic performance underscored by brass notes punctuating rapidly paced reeds and roaring percussion to pieces arranged by some of the nation’s most well known composers. The audience, housed in the Frank “Buck” Shaffer Theatre was pleased, evidenced by their hearty applause and standing ovations throughout.

via Marine Band plays patriotic pieces | plays, band, president – Local News – Recorderonline.com.

OK, the crowd was not really whipped into a frenzy.They were generally mystified that outsiders had stumbled into Porterville to entertain them, but politely pleased that they did.

The performance was enjoyable, akin to a Pops Concert almost. In Porterville, any outside performance is a big deal, and this one was well done.

We were a little nervous arriving – the tickets made plain that everyone needed to be seated by 7:15 even though the show was not until 7:30. Thoughts of the fate of a certain Georgian theater crowd at the hand of the Russians crept through my mind. And, well, we saw “Inglorious Basterds” too ….

In the end there was no violence or no explanation for why the public had to follow marching orders from the Marines. At least there was no speechifying either, all joking aside, that is what I thought those 15 minutes would be used for. At least 3 City Council members were present, but they simply enjoyed the show as everyone else did.

Overall, I’d say the age of the attendees was skewed towards the Korean War and Vietnam War veteran era.

I was really only joking to myself when I thought, during the opening rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner”, that some of the attendees may very well have been fighting in the War of 1812.… Read the rest

Porterville this is aimed right at you!

Local Tulare County Professor Professor Robin McGehee is co-Director of the event, streaming now. Porterville City Council, watch what you have wrought!

RT @unitethefight: Coverage of National Equality March has started on C-SPAN!! http://ow.ly/tPlt #NEM

C-SPAN offers gavel to gavel coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives. C-SPAN also offers a variety of public affairs programming including congressional hearings, press briefings from the White House, State Department and Pentagon, campaign and election coverage, and international programming.
Read the rest

Editor – Porterville Recorder Job in Porterville 93258

I guess Glen Faison, the current editor is moving on. Can’t say as I blame him.

This job opening from Monster just now came across my desk

Editor – Porterville RecorderAbout the JobThe Porterville Recorder, a 9,500 daily newspaper serving the central California valley, is seeking an experienced Editor to lead our 10-person team in covering community news and issues.

As usual, anything that comes out of the Recorder is of questionable accuracy. No way this paper is 9500 circulation, I was told by a “well placed insider” this past January that the circulation had dropped far below that by then. No comment on if there is a “10 person team” or not, although I am sure that more than 10 people are still employed by the paper.

Our candidate must have experience in covering a variety of beats and be comfortable in the role of mentor to young reporters.

That much is true – I was interviewed recently by a reporter who left the Recorder for the local weekly Sierra Messenger while still in (or having recently completed) High School. The other two news reporters are interns just out of college. They are eager and working hard from what I can tell, but they are very rough around the edges, never thinking to get opposing quotes even when covering a local story that is controversial and getting national attention.

A high degree of community involvement and direct reader engagement is required.​ We have renewed our focus on community news and the people in the communities we serve.​ The successful candidate must be able to balance an active role in the community with aggressive approaches to news, sports and feature coverage.​ As the editorial page editor, our Editor will write editorials and seek out the local voices necessary to build a lively discussion across multiple platforms.

Read the rest