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Freedom of Expression Essential to a Free Society

newspaper logoSedona AZ (March 8, 2014)The following is a letter to the SedonaEye.com:

The following information and statements are based on my opinion and my interpretation of the information and conversations:

Today (3/6/2014) I was banned from ever having a letter in the Sedona Red Rock News (SRRN). That was publisher Robert Larson’s message delivered to me via his editor, Christopher Graham, in a phone call that my wife answered.

Isn’t that a completely convoluted, inappropriate and gutless way to respond to a subscriber who has been lied about in the SRRN?

In the February 26th edition of the SRRN, Michael Burdick had a letter to the editor printed in which he stated that, in my one of my recent letters to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) I had quoted from an article at MarylandSmartMeterAwareness.org. Despite the SRRN’s stated policy of “fact checking” all letters, Burdick’s assertion was not a fact. I did not quote from MarylandSmartMeterAwareness.org or any other website in my ACC letter. My letter was based solely on primary source material, that being Northeast Utilities’ statement to the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Utilities.

In trying to correct this mistake on the part of the SRRN, I learned that, despite all their bragging, letters are not really fact checked at the SRRN. Fact checking implies a researcher verifying assertions made. That’s not how it works at the SRRN.

COMMITMENT TO PROTECTING THE CRITICAL ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE The Department’s priority is reflected in its investment in cybersecurity for energy delivery systems and energy reliability modernization, and its close collaboration with Federal, State and local governments, and industry.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY COMMITMENT TO PROTECTING THE CRITICAL ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE
Learn how OE is implementing the $4.5 billion provided by the Recovery Act for grid modernization. The Department’s priority is reflected in its investment in cybersecurity for energy delivery systems and energy reliability modernization, and its close collaboration with Federal, State and local governments, and industry.

What happens is that the letter writer is required by the editor to provide documentation for anything the editor does not agree with or is ignorant of. Essentially you are on trial and the outcome seems to depend on whether or not the editor is smart enough to grasp your evidence, or if he even wants to grasp it at all. The rub is that the editor, as judge and jury, can shift his argument as he goes along, waste your time with incessant demands and faulty logic, or even deny the facts you have provided.

In my case, I experienced all of that, and it seemed the main reason behind it all was Graham’s unwillingness to admit he printed a lie. I furnished the SRRN more than adequate proof that I did not quote from MarylandSmartMeterAwareness.org (MSMA) but it just didn’t matter.

Indeed, at one point in our exchange, Graham rationalized that, because the quote I used appeared in 54 different places on the internet, I could have gotten it at any one of those places. But wait, if that’s true then how did Burdick “prove” I got the quote from MSMA? It seems likely that Burdick was never asked to prove that. Or if he was, how could he have known which of the 54 places I got it from? Seeming frustrated, Graham’s way to end the argument was to accuse me of “nitpicking”.

In his letter, Burdick touted a “smart” meter report by the California Council on Science and Technology. That report is so bogus that contributors to the report whose findings did not support the industry-friendly conclusion were still listed as contributors even though their findings were not included in the report!

Patricia A. Hoffman Assistant Secretary, Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability

Patricia A. Hoffman
Assistant Secretary, Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability writes on Department of Energy website, “Modernizing the nation’s grid continues to be a priority for the President. Following the State of the Union address in February, the National Science and Technology Council released A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid: A Progress Report which highlights the Administration’s most recent achievements to make the nation’s electric grid stronger, smarter, and cleaner than ever before…As we continue to see results from the Recovery Act and other investments in grid modernization, we will continue reporting through the DOE blog, and the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and smartgrid.gov web sites.”

I pointed that out in my letter as well as the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) money trail behind the California report. Graham wanted substantiation for the money trail which I provided. After being presented with the facts on the money trail, Graham then shifted his argument by calling the established money trail an “ad hominem guilt by association fallacy”.

Graham seemed very capable of denying facts. Wanting proof of the DOE’s $3.4B “smart” grid subsidy, I presented him with a 2009 news report that stated this:

“President Barack Obama today announced $3.4 billion in ARRA smart-grid grants. According to a White House release, this is the largest single energy-grid modernization investment in U.S. history. The funds will be matched by industry funding for a total public-private investment of more than $8 billion, according to the release.”

Graham then replied that I had not provided “… any proof that the U.S. Department of Energy nor the nebulous “industry” is promoting [smart meters].”

Really.

And these are just some of the “highlights” of my experience. The entire exchange with Graham was nothing short of bizarre. And it became clear that it was hopeless as well.

I thought perhaps the SRRN publisher would not only be reasonable but would also want to know how his editor went about his “fact checking”, and that his paper had printed a lie. So I wrote publisher Larson a letter explaining the situation. It seems likely that Larson’s response was to tell Graham to ban me from his paper since all I got in reply was a message from my wife saying that Graham had called and I was banned from the paper.

newspaper advertising graphHow lame is that?

Longtime residents have assured me the SRRN has always been this way. Perhaps that’s why only 19 of the 112 homes in my neighborhood are subscribers. Better make that 18 now.

PS – For anyone wishing to see Burdick’s letter to the editor, my response, my email exchange with Graham and my letter to Larson, just send me an email at w6345789 at yahoo dot com.

Warren Woodward
Sedona AZ
 
 
For the best in Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!

For the best in Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!

36 Comments

  1. Dear Mr. Woodward, many residents of Sedona are behind you…in the facts stated in your letter to the SRRN, as well as your letter sent to Sedona Times…who have the guts to write what is REALLY going on around here. Keep speaking up. We ALL must keep speaking up or OUR Sedona becomes a microcosm of the layers of lies our entire country is hidden under. And we CONTINUE to lose our freedom of speech. Bravo to you, I say aloud.

  2. Warren, there are others who have walked in your shoes. ONE of my own alleged offenses occurred because I had the audacity to participate in airing a Conflict of Interest Opinion, a public document, issued by Coconino County Attorney Terence C. Hance in August of 2000. Only those letters to the editor condemning me and my colleague were published although we were made aware via copies of supporting letters they were denied publication. And the same as you, my effort to respond to the verbal attacks was denied.

    Thank you for coming forward with your side of the story and thank you, Sedona Eye, for putting it out there.

    Eddie S. Maddock

  3. Brad Coffin says:

    People should be up in arms when freedom to speak is challenged. Good work sir. I may not agree with you but I will fight to the death for the right for you to speak your truth as I want others to be willing to do for me.

  4. julie says:

    We support you Warren. @Annie @Eddie @Brad Bravo to you all. Warren we need you to speak up. Sadly we’ve seen this happen over and over. SRRN has a conflict EGO.

  5. John D says:

    Based on Warren’s nitpicking above and claims of unfairness over this smart meter silliness, I doubt Warren more than Fox-Graham. Fox-Graham’s a straight shooter going after council members, Yavapai College and others who bend or break rules and the public trust. There’s a lot of “assumptions” in Warrens attack here … and you know what happens when you “assume”. Only one side in this argument posted … Ask for the other side before you think Warrens in the right

    RRN prints letters criticizing their stories just as often as any big city paper

  6. The APS smart meters are coming! Get to the Council meeting and let your voices be heard. Demand that they vote for health and safety or face no reelection votes! I’m disgusted with DORR inaction. Leadership is self serving & spineless.

  7. SHOW UP says:

    Mr. Coffin: I would hate to put you into a fight to the death but you lost your ability to speak in 1996. In 1996, Congress passed the Telecommunications Act.

    Local gov’t and states were not allowed to consider health or environment when placing cell towers. This is what made the business and the reach of the FCC grow, at the same time the EPA budget was cut to ribbons.

    http://transition.fcc.gov/telecom.html

    Back to present, business is now ready to put the radiation through our home wiring with the ‘smart’ meter. Now cell carriers want towers within 50 feet of homes so they can read the ‘smart’ meter data. That’s right, layer upon layer of something very bad for humans. Ask yourself what this really means? The fact that is does not matter that it is bad for humans.

    Our local gov’t is so trained to sit in silence for fear of being sued that they automatically feel that their hands are tied. Again, through years of training with the wireless carriers.

    The only way to change things is to show up and get involved. It is great to praise one man or a couple of people and feel informed but only when people show up do things change. Compliment, like it on face book, that is all good, but you have to show up.

  8. Connie says:

    And to think that recently a front page featured article was about Jennifer Wesselhoff leader of the chamber of commerce having sent a letter to Governor Jan Brewer asking her to veto SB 1060, a bill making it legal to discriminate against selected groups and individuals. Clearly this Red Rock News has been marching to their own drummer for years and years. How disgusting. Yet another case of their “do as we say and not as we do” policy.

  9. A few facts about the Red Rock News

    A) $30,576 Paid to the Red Rock News for Advertising and Public Notices Paid By the City of Sedona for Fiscal year starting July 2012-2013

    Plus Political candidate advertising, the Red Rock News Loves the city.

    But wait, there’s more…

    B) Sedona Film Festival.

    It is my understanding they receive a $250,000 Grant from the City of Sedona.

    Pat Schweiss ( President, Executive Director film festival) is actually married to Liz Larson, who is the daughter of Bob Larson, Sr. and Loretta Larson, who we understand still own the Red Rock News. Her brother, Bob Larson (Jr.) has actually been running the newspaper.

    C) Sedona Chamber of Commerce

    Funds from the City of Sedona

    $250,000 Chamber destination Marketing Account #6731
    $275,000 Chamber Visitor Center Account #6722
    $80,000 Chamber from a non-earmarked account focusing on increasing revenue for tourism.
    $1,200,000 more or less from the bed tax beginning July1, 2014

    Jennifer Wesselhoff is the President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce
    Rick Wesselhoff,her husband is listed as Partner, SedonaRedRock News.com

    If a newspaper was to want to increase advertising, it would want more businesses and more tourists. One problem with the city’s actions, they drive business out of Sedona. Take a look at all the commercial vacancies. When the SRRN supports the city, they are actually hurting the potential advertisers in the paper, and therefore the paper. So, while they have their hands deep in the city’s pockets , they hurt the SRRN in the long term.

    Karma is wonderful!

  10. Tom Bergen says:

    @Richard Saunders

    You must not have much of a life to have the time to do all of that wasteful research.

    My question to you Mr. Saunders……….

    Who gives a darn?

    So what if the City of Sedona pay’s $30,576 for Public Notices. Perhaps, you haven’t heard or did that research, the City of Sedona is MANDATED to print public notices. That’s why they’re called “PUBLIC” notices. This is just one of the ways we know what the heck the city is doing. I think it’s called being TRANSPARENT!

    I guess you’re now going to complain that the Larson family are bad people for TAKING that $30,576. Perhaps you didn’t know, the Larson’s are in business to MAKE MONEY. It’s called The American Way.

    Mr. Saunders, I’m very sure that if the city DIDN’T print those public notices you’d be all over them. But of course, you should be, THEN.

    I could go on and on but the fact is that each and every line of your posting are well known facts. Who cares who’s married to whom as long as there’s no illegal activity.

    You really need to get a life, sir!

  11. j. Aire says:

    When was the last time the Chamber was audited? When was the last time the City was audited? …… Heck, when was the FIRST time an audit was performed?

    Amazing more people have not become enraged by the circle-jerk, palm-greasing, back-rubbing, inside trading that continually goes on again and again within the City, Chamber, SRRN and other “City/Chamber” sponsored events such as the Marathon fiasco recently, the film festival every year, and more.

    We are a city population, comprised mainly of retired individuals, that has a Chamber who is wasting money and advertising to tourists for Wine-Tours in Zurich, and has a city that hikes up taxes and fees so high that retail and restaurants cannot survive. Take a walk through uptown and all the businesses near the “Y” – you’d think PRIME retail locations – and observe vacant building after vacant building.

    And then the City and Chamber personnel sit around passing the tax-payer’s hard earned money back and forth between one another. It is disgusting and obscene how the Sedona City officials are of the highest paid in the state. They are among the highest paid in comparison to other cities and communities – and are paid grotesquely out of proportion to comparable sized cities.

    Enough is Enough!

  12. Jan says:

    Freedom of Expression works in mysterious ways. Example: 63% of Sedona registered voters (4073) did NOT BOTHER TO VOTE on the Community Plan. Apparently Tom Bergen and his cohorts have been correct all along. It will be interesting to see if that 63% remains silent when the total population is required to foot the bill via property taxes and any other means for the propose of financing future “requirements” to fulfill the terms of that “new plan.” Yippee!

  13. Activity does not have to be illegal to be immoral and wrong. A con artist may get you to willingly part with your money, but it is still a con and considered wrong in most societies.

    That is a big problem in the current society. He did not get put in jail, so it must be legal. Theft is still theft, wrong is still wrong.

    I’m trying to inform the voters. Notice no one has disputed my facts.

  14. Tom Bergen says:

    @ Richard Saunders

    Mr. Saunders, I don’t know where you come up with this logic, all of the line items that you present as issues are in fact, NON-ISSUES. I really think that you need to stop wasting the readers time with your irreverent “pot stirring”.

    Why don’t you take a step back and find something to write about that someone really cares about.

  15. Tom Bergen says:

    @Jan

    Now, I may be wrong but can you please tell me where, in the new approved, Community Plan you saw anything that say’s that there was a “proposed property tax” because, I can’t find any type of wording that speaks on that topic.

    Perhaps if you, Mr. Saunders, Julie and a few others would stop putting their own spin on the plan and just read the darn thing, you’ll have a better understanding of it.

  16. Karen says:

    Sounds like ranting from a city employee @Tom Bergen. (KD) I don’t care for the new community plan for many reasons. It’s not clear enough and there are too many ways to interpret it.

    City employees are employees, they are not vested or held accountable. The City of Sedona is a business. Not run very good. Sounds like Mr Saunders has a managers mind. To look at things without emotion is the way successful businesses are run.

    Yep….. you really sound like an employee who likes to spend money. Clearly you don’t want anyone to speak up…….. gravy train….. highest paid employees are with city, fire, chamber………. all spending taxpayers money without accountability.

  17. Jan says:

    @Tom Berger

    Excuse me, but what source of money do you suggest will pay for the focus areas, park improvements, buying up of more land, and last but not least parking accommodations, etc?

    In case you weren’t aware, a consultant made a presentation to the city council last summer explaining new sources of revenue: Property taxes, Special improvements districts; and Government obligation bonds. Do you really believe the ongoing hike in monthly sewer fees and possibly increased sales tax will pay for the visions contained in the “new plan?”

    The Community Plan is a guide, Mr. Berger. Implementation of it will be forthcoming based on the process via city council and staff. Duh!

    You won the battle, Sir. Unless you still believe in Santa Claus again I ask how will the new proposals in the plan be funded? Time will tell. ENOUGH.

  18. Tom Bergen says:

    @Karen

    Hate to burst your bubble Karen I am not nor ever been a Sedona employee. Don’t think that they hire people in their 60’s. However I was, in another life, a city employee in Austin TX for what ever difference that seems to interest you.

    When I worked in TX we had community plans although not a detailed. You can pick it apart or interpret it any way you please BUT it doesn’t say the things you are inferring.

    The city of Sedona is NOT a business. Every time a business owner is voted onto the council, they try to run it like a business and fail, every time.

    For your information I LOVE PEOPLE WHO SPEAK UP, just those who know what they’re talking about. I’ve read your postings for the past few months now and see very little connection between your postings and the truth.

  19. Tom G says:

    Karen and Jan sound like the same person! Richard Saunder Aka Tony Tonish a managers mind!!? Please!!! More like a hateful nut job!! You complain about “how they spend taxpayer money” , I’m a taxpayer and can’t believe my property taxes are as low as they are for the services provided in this town!! Get a grip tea party people, stop your crying or go move off the grid!!

  20. Ben says:

    to Richard Saunders, thanks for the research and info, have put in my files for future.

    Speaking of My files I just went thru them and No Tom Bergen, white pages No Tom Bergen, google No Tom Bergen except comments on sedonaeye. So folks ignore him because she’s hiding behind this name.

  21. Rick Bills says:

    Guys, guys, guys! Why so mean? Where’s the love? Since this site was brought to my attention a short while ago I have come to the conclusion it’s a site with about 20 followers, all with the same agenda to bash, bash, bash! City employees are bad! Chamber employees are bad! Film festival employees are bad! And the media competition, RRN is really bad! And the folks who live here who don’t speak up and support your “sky is falling” cries are going to be sorry!

    How many of you know that the old community plan was very detailed, included probably over 500 pages of things that could be “implemented” and if so would cost money? That old plan had a whole bunch of areas identied as planning areas just like the new plan. Some of the things in that plan were implemented, but not using city dollars, but with individuals wishing to develop their property… I know that the new trail off of highway 89a on Cooks Hill was constructed entirely by private funds for you, the folks of Sedona’s benefit…. Not your hard earned tax money. I know this for a fact as Mr. Moore is an acquaintance of mine.

    Speaking of which, you guys don’t pay city property taxes. I called the city and asked, like Donna Joy suggested. Nope no property taxes, in fact those bad people at city hall who are not held accountable, were very professional and politely answered all my questions… Providing me access to all their documents … You just have to ask. Back to my point, guys, those pesky tourists and visitors through sales taxes are the primary source of revenue that is used to pay for those unthinkable public notIces, police services, and all city services you seem to take for granted.

    In my opinion, and an opinion is only that until backed up by facts, this site is home to a small group of disgruntled folks with way too much time on their hands, but apparently not enough time to seek out facts like Donna Joy. When Donna speaks, I will listen, but Tony, Richard, Karen, Julie and the rest of you … Blah, blah, blah. The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Hardly!

  22. Tom Bergen says:

    @ Ben

    Thanks for the insight about checking what pages & Google searches. How about doing the same for Richard Saunders, you’ll find that he’s hiding behind his name.

    FYI, cell phones aren’t listed in the white pages and I never did anything worth being listed on Google. Perhaps Saunders has the same reasons, don’t know nor do I care.

    My postings of facts speak more then Saunders’ postings of mis-information.

  23. Tom Bergen says:

    @ Tom G

    Thanks for the reminder Tom G, I never understood how Richard Saunders can speak about how they spend our tax dollars when WE DON’T PAY CITY TAX DOLLARS

  24. James Poole says:

    @ Richard Saunders.Good info. @ j. Aire great post.

  25. Joshua says:

    Maybe it would be a good idea for Tom Bergen to purchase Sedona Eye since it appears he’s attempting to take control. Then he could have his name on the masthead and avoid the need for so much repetition along with eliminating comments from people who disagree with him. Just a thought. Oops “opinion.”

  26. Tom G says:

    Josh’s!! Maybe your tea party could pick 1 or 2 things you really really hate, and focus on these nstead. When you hate everything about everything, you become less effective and wind up looking like a joke!

  27. Ben…I don’t understand the preoccupation of those who post here with doing an Internet search of a poster’s name to find ammunition to use against that poster. It was done to me recently by one of the cheap shot artists who post here regularly. Of course that person, and several others like you, don’t use their full or real name to post here. When people who use apparent real names are dismissed for their opinions and those who post anonymously are given full credit for their views, it becomes a through the looking glass world.

  28. Tom Bergen says:

    @Joshua

    Me, purchase SedonaEye, I DON’T THINK SO. I don’t mess with perfect! I don’t think that anyone could take the place of current editor of Sedona.Eye. If I even thought of the idea, I’d slap myself silly. I’m sure that being the editor of this site takes way too much work and I’m not ready to give up retirement.

    Perhaps if certain people would do a bit of research before spouting half truths, we can accomplish more on this site.

    Rick Bill, you’re dead on with your observations. If you and Eddie got together, you’d make a great team. It appears that those uninformed on this site are really just 2 or perhaps even 1 person. I don’t care how they change the names, the message that they are putting out there is the same.

  29. I respect and honor anyone that uses their real name on SedonaEye.

    While I may not agree with their opinion, it does engage us in healthy dialogue.

    As a long term resident, I do completely understand why some people don’t.

  30. What I always notice is a lot of personal attacks, but no one disputes my facts.

    Must be a lot of city employees, Sedona Red Rock News and chamber beneficiaries commenting and wanting to hide the truth.

    Please, cite facts. I love a logical argument. Perhaps I may learn something from my opponents. It is possible, but I have not seen it yet, just bs groundless attacks.

  31. Tom Bergen says:

    @Mr. Saunders

    I have a pair of reading glasses that I’d be happy to send over to you.

    You have been presented with facts after facts many times by several different posters on this site and because you have no idea of how any government works, you’re blind to the truth or wouldn’t know it if it hit you in the face.

    You fail to see the importance and attack the police for providing traffic protection on 89A to the people taking down the holiday lights. In my opinion if the police DIDN’T provide that protection you’d be the first to attack them for not doing their job. After all, providing protection to everyone IS THEIR JOB.

    You pick on a maintenance worker for going to the bank on his lunch break, wow isn’t that news worthy!

    You post information about workers at city hall with contact numbers to elude to the readers on this site that something must be wrong, when in fact their just doing their job.

    The list goes on and on but I think that the educated readers of this site have pegged you for the blowhard that you are.

  32. Hank says:

    to Richard S. and Tom B – come on guys and move forward and stop your “girly spat” or is it a bar room brawl?

    You guys both attempt to make points that are sometimes right and sometimes not but the biggest thing is neither of you allow for any other opinions and that’s not a good thing.

    I don’t have to agree with everything the city does and that doesn’t make me wrong. I do my research and watch the crazy city meetings and have read the community plan and happily voted no on it. Does that put me in your radar? So be it, yet I will stand by my convictions and allow others theirs. Why can’t you do that without attacking each other and anyone who disagrees with you?

    With all due respect guys? Find a new hobby.

  33. Hank says:

    P.S. to Tom B; Do you really believe we citizens of Sedona don’t pay taxes? Hey man Perhaps you will recall we pay taxes on food, gas, any retail goods bought and on and on. Those taxes are then distributed back to our city and then they become “our” tax monies.

    On top of those taxes: Then our tourists pay bed taxes and sales taxes, etc., that are proportionally given back to the city. Again, those revenues derived by taxation become our tax dollars. Hay buddy – not a tough concept to understand.

    If not for the above taxes – how do you think Sedona derives the money our council keeps spending and just giving away? Surly the money Council spends doesn’t come from their continued increase in our wastewater fees?

    Guess you forget that the residents and tourists do pay City Taxes as well as State and County Taxes that are shared back to the City for the city to use. If not for all the above – where do you think our City Revenue comes from?

  34. Molly Capri says:

    http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/free_speech.png

    From XKCD:
    Public Service Announcement: The Right to Free Speech means the government can’t arrest you for what you say.

    It doesn’t mean that anyone else has to listen to your bull, or host you while you share it.

    The 1st amendment doesn’t shield you from criticism or consequences.

    If you’re yelled at, boycotted, have your show canceled, or get banned from an Internet community, your free speech rights aren’t being violated.

    It’s just that the people listening think you’re a jerk,

    And they’re showing you the door.

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