Dave Ettl is Not Above the Law – Dave Responds
On Sunday the Yakima Herald Republic ran a brief story about me being off air during the primary election period and possibly beyond. There really wasn't anything new to the article but it did resurrect the idea of fairness which opened the door to comment - like the one shown below. I think my response there paints a pretty good picture of whats going on and what I think about it. So we are reprinting it here. I encourage your comments.
Some things you can always count on - like Ellen’s suggestion of worst case scenario. No, I do not think I should be above the law. I do know the law and while I don’t believe anyone should be above the law, I do believe I should be allowed to comment on the law. I know the Equal Time clause was not originally written with my circumstance in mind. But, the FCC says it still applies 75 years later…so be it …but that doesn’t make it fair by my definition of fair. But even that’s not new. The federal books are filled with laws that produce countless unintended negative consequences for one party or another. Wait until Obama carefully kicks in and you may experience it yourself firsthand!
I do support the original intent of the Equal Time Clause. If one candidate is provided free time to state his political views, his opponent should get equal time with a comparable audience to do the same. That idea was to prevent a radio station from tipping the scales of success toward one candidate over the other and YES, I think that IS fair. But is it fair that I do a 30 second weather forecast for which I am paid less than 50 cents by my employer and then my employer has to give a 30 second commercial valued at 40 to 60 dollars to each of my opponents to talk about their plans for Yakima?
Under the law as it is applied, If I give the mariners score, they get to talk about the Mill Site project, If I introduce a guest to talk about a medical program they get two minutes each to talk about the gangs, jail and public safety and If I take 60 seconds to tell you about the mattress sale at Sleep Country USA, they each get a minute to discuss the downtown economic revitalization plan. All at the considerable expense of my employer. Does that meet the basic concept of "fairness?"
If my opponent gets equal time , what do I receive? The FCC does not provide me a legal avenue to go to Mr. Reynaga’s auto dealership during his work hours and talk to his customers about choosing a different car then the one he recommends or even to talk to them about local politics. If it did, that would represent my definition of fairness. Instead, because I am an on-air employee of a radio station I have no opportunity to say anything that might impact my opponent but everything I say can be used to impact me.
If Yakima is anything, it is a fair community. This people of this city have values and they value basic fairness. I believe the voters deserve to have the full understanding of what’s going on. Once fully informed, they can reach their own conclusions. I trust their judgment.
Don’t misunderstand. I not whining about it. I made mention of the concept of fairness on a post on the KIT website and Mr. Catchpole of the YHR is the one who wrote this article and chose to dig that up. WHY? But now that is being discussed here, I feel obliged to comment.
Remember, while the FCC provides for EQUAL TIME, It does not mandate a candidate to demand EQUAL TIME. Each candidate has to make that decision for themselves. I am more than willing to offer equal time on air to discuss city and election issues with my opponents. We still hope to do so. I would like to hear what they have to say and to have a good discussion about it. As far as I’m concerned, if the company would allow it, they are welcome to co-host the show! How’s that for fair?
However, both my opponents have decided their first order of business in running to serve the citizens of our city is to exploit a 75 year old law to muzzle their opponent, conflicting the work environment of my employer and disrupting the daily schedule’s of our advertisers and my co-workers. To avoid that, We would have to give away thousands of dollars in advertising -or- I would have to drop out of the race. Legal – yes! Fair?
My time on council so far has been very rewarding and we have the city headed in a new direction with energy, imagination and momentum. It is far too important to me to continue this work to be pushed out now. Fortunately Town Square media agrees and supports me in my race. So now you know…and that’s fair