Street Knowledge News
Untold News Sory
Jul 26 1998

The word is out. Monica Lewinsky has agreed to tell her side of what was going on between her and President Clinton. For most of us, this escapade between the President and Lewinsky is all we've been hearing about for several months. But what else is going on out there in the world as well as the Bay Area? Last week's edition of Street Knowledge included a pair of journalists who helped inform everybody what else is going on besides this overexposure about Clinton.

"I got two of the most dangerous people in the media sitting before me," said host Davey D, who had Dennis Bernstine of KPFA Radio in Berkeley and Harrison Chastang of KPOO Radio on the program. On the phone, Gerald Sanders of "Copwatch" Investigations was on to discuss other issues as well.

"The way it is right now is that we're a headline-grabbing society," Davey said. "Whatever is on the headline, it's kind of what we deal with. And it's kind of unusual when you look at it in comparison to other parts of the world. Most parts of the world, people really want to know what's going on. They want to know the facts, who said it, when, why, who what where and how. But here, it's like the 30 second sound bite is the way it's all about and the trend in the media is to actually move away from that hard-hitting news because people are saying it's too complicated, we can't understand it and it makes more fluff." Davey added that while the media is too busy chasing Lewinsky, they have not done a good job addressing the public about other issues such as possible laws being passed and conflicts within organizations.

"Bet you didn't know that in congress, they're now working to pass legislation so that they will redice the penalty for those who have the drug speed," Davey said. "They want to reduce the penalties of that at the same time increase the mandatory sentencing for those who have crack. The list goes on and on." Bernstine and Chastang specialize in investigation these other stories while the rest try to chase top headlines.

One story that Chastang has been working on is the issue of the sale of Channel-20 which was a tv station, previously owned by James Gabbert. He wanted to make a personal statement and sell it to an African- American owned company. Unfortunately the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper along with local tv stations KRON and Bay TV "These companies feel that there's going to be a threat," Chastang said. "And the Chronicle already owns three major news outlets here in the Bay Area. So why are they blocking this sale?"

Bernstine has been working on stories from the South. "We did have a civil rights movement and it was successive," Bernstine said. "But there was no protection for the people who had these successes. Among what Bernstine has been following was the burning of a black-owned weekly newspaper company in Jackson Mississippi: The Jackson Advocate. "It was burned to the ground for the second time," Bernstine said. "Why was it burned down ? And when was it burned down?

The publisher (of the Jackson Clarion Letter) Mr. Charles Tisdale, a courageous man trying to hold the white supremacy accountable there, sued the city and certain politicians for $30 million for an illegal attempt ... to seize control of downtown Jackson Mississippi. Twelve days after Mr. Tisdale's suit, his paper was burned to the ground. "Was there anybody investigating it? Where the feds in there? Is anybody looking into this with this new anti-crime bill?" , were some of the questions Bernstine raised

Chastang has also been working on the process in banking mergers. "It seems like the banking industry is going wild," Chastang said. "The biggest banks are merging, and it's gonna be harder for us to deal with banks." One example is Bank of America, which is moving to North Carolina. Chastang added the possibility of increase in fees and the cease of receiving welfare checks in the mail.

"You ever try to discuss your problems with the ATM machine," added Bernstine. "This is gonna be a problem for people with not a lot of money."

Sanders, who was a phone guest, spoke about his investigation on a law in Oakland that allows police to seize a vehicle they feel the violator is trying to solicit prostitution. The cars will then be auctioned off and the money will benefit law inforcement. Sanders says that it's another way for police to get funds. "Remember that they changed the state law so that they can take away cars from people with no insurance," Sanders said. "I don't think it's right to take cars away for petty crimes.

It's off the map. If I get my car taken away, I lose my ability to work."

Although this week's show was more of a round table discussion, calls from all over the Bay Area continued to pour in. Caller Nicole from Pittsburg agrees with the law to confiscate cars. "I think it's a good idea because too many people are driving without insurance anyway," Nicole said. "There are a lot of drug dealers that get around in cars that are under other people's name," said Caller Dalton from Fremont. "It's all a big scam."

An Oakland police officer, who wished to have his name withheld, called in and defended the issue of seizing automobiles. "It's a good thing because it keeps prostitutes and other people out of Oakland," said the Oakland officer. "It's not like if we see a guy talking to a prostitue, we'll take his car. What we do is set up an operation with a female police officer." We live in a country where ignorace can be our worst enemies.

Part of working for the media is to find that story that they know everyone will want to know about. Unfortunately, those stories often blocks off some things that might be more of our concern. How many of us knew about the possible law that says your car will be seized if you look like you are soliciting prostitution? How many of us knew about the other bill that's coming forward to congress saying a heavy penalty will be enforced if one burns the US flag? There's also a bill that, if passed, violators will be severly punished for passing along illegal information over the internet. We have to remember that there is more than just a single story in a newspaper or newscast. It's the media's fault for overexposing such topics and society's fault for not expanding their minds. Where this may lead us ... who knows?

If you have any ideas that should be a concern on Street Knowledge or if you would like a copy of Street Knowledge News, Email Chris Navalta at;
written by
Chris Navalta of
The Vallejo Times Herald

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