There’s just something about election season in Fayetteville, which makes the blood run a little faster, conversations a little more heated, and anticipating reading the morning paper all that much more exciting.
There’s also something a little frustrating about it, especially when you consider that so many local candidates have a great resource at their disposal and have absolutely no idea how to use it. I’m writing - of course! about Fayetteville’s Community Acceess Television, our public access station.
True, for over 25 years, public access in Fayetteville has served as our only true regional arts, entertainment, public affairs and religious channel, but it’s also proven - to those canny enough to use it - as an invaluable resource for candidates and those seeking political/social change in Northwest Arkansas.
What? You may ask? How can public access help me? I’m just running for alderman/mayor/JP.
The truth is, raucous reader, that in the 21st Century, almost every move a candidate makes should have the TV element in mind - especially in a media savvy town like Fayetteville.
Gonna have a press conference? Have it taped and shown on C.A.T.
Giving a presentation - to anybody, anywhere? Have it taped and shown on C.A.T.
Someone on your campaign should always be thinking ahead, with regard to public access - which at times has a pretty large audience. Oh, there those who call around to C.A.T. producers and say, “We’re having in event in 24 (or sometimes 12) hours. Could you tape it for us?” When they are unsuccessful, they tend to give up altogether.
There are any number of talk shows on C.A.T. that a candidate could appear on. Thee are the famous “Short Takes,” in which a candidate and their supporters can come on every week till the election and talk up the candidate and the issues.
You could even arrange to have a program made about the candidate. The folks at C.A.T. can tell you more about your options on that score.
Why don’t we have an incinerator stinking up Fayetteville?
Why did voters switch to the mayor/council form of government in 1992, from the City Manager form?
How was the Planning Commission shamed into allowing the Government Channel into showing their meetings on TV?
Public access played a key role in all those issue; actually, it was pretty much the only factor involved with the Planning Commission affair.
Never underestimate the reach that public access has.
Quote of the Day
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." --Mark Twain
Licensed to Kill
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, I had a number of friends who avidly read Soldier of Fortune magazine, and fantasized about running off to join a mercenary army. The mercenary craze was quite the rage in the early 80s; There was even a cheesy series of adventure novels called, oddly enough, “The Mercenary.”
Mostly, I made jokes at their expense. Little did I know that come the 21st Century, they might very well have their chance. Of course, today we call them “private contractors” - that way we don’t have to consider the implications of hiring others to do our fighting for us.
The use of such hired guns first came into prominence after the United States invaded Afghanistan, but the war in Iraq has offered even greater opportunities for those who offer “security”work. Such work might include providing bodyguard or escort services, or any of a myriad of tasks.
Robert Young Pelton has performed an admirable job of bringing the world of such private contractors to light in “Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror.” The only problem I have with this informative work is that Pelton sometimes seems to see things from the contractors’ side a little too often.
That’s a minor point, though. We may not find a better work detailing the day-to-day operations of private security firms than this book. Pelton gives the reader an excellent look at the training process, and the daily lives of private contractors in Iraq. One thing you have to acknowledge - these people are serious about their jobs, and their training is top-notch.
Along the way, though, some troubling questions come to mind. Given the born-again nature of the owner of Blackwater - one of the leading security firms - and his adherence to the right-wing agenda of George Bush - make one wonder just what he might draw the line at.
And then there is the age-old problem with mercenaries: despite the protestations of their owners that they would always fight on America’s side, they can’t speak for what might happen in the future, under different owners.
And as our own military faces a recruiting crisis, the option of using private contractors in foreign wars may well seem more cost-effective.
And for those who don’t see this as a potential problem, just consider this September, 2005 posting on truthout.org:
“New Orleans - Heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, are openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans. Some of the mercenaries say they have been "deputized" by the Louisiana governor; indeed some are wearing gold Louisiana state law enforcement badges on their chests and Blackwater photo identification cards on their arms. They say they are on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and have been given the authority to use lethal force.”
Along with these “deputized” contractors, private citizens were also hiring Blackwater (and other firms) to guard private homes after Katrina - including Israeli mercenaries from the firm of ISI.
So you have to ask yourself, what price loyalty?