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Bob Bytes Back Archive: Seeing Red (ACTV)

 3/13/1996
by Bob Fitrakis

Did you ever notice that if you look at Mayor Lashutka quickly from the side he looks a lot like former Soviet premier Brezhnev? When Greg speaks, it’s Leonid without the charisma. More importantly, the mayor’s policies are that same drab, debilitating 1970s Soviet gray. Hyperbole, you say?

Communism is known for its vehement disdain for free speech; recently so is the Lashutka administration. Last week, Maureen Conley, director of Columbus’ Department of Administrative Services, was quoted as saying that “the original intent [of public access TV] doesn’t matter.” She concedes that the original intent was the exercising of free speech. Maureen, and we presume the mayor, wish to go “forward” into a brave new world where the public’s voice is controlled. This wasn’t always the case. Just a few short years ago, the mayor made a public service announcement for ACTV, Columbus’ public access channel: “…In today’s democracy, the television camera is as important as the quill pen was to the founding fathers. ACTV is your TV, it’s your soapbox, your stage, your talk show. Make freedom of speech part of your daily life….”

Arbitrary and oppressive administrative fiats are now Lashutka’s style. Leonid would be impressed. Conley claims that “currently the cable access channel, according to our cable providers, is one of the lowest-viewed channels on the spectrum.” Yet, Warner Cable’s PR and marketing departments claim that no such data exist. One would think that Conley, as a former employee of Warner Cable–now charged with negotiating their contract with her current employer, the city–would know this. Or does she have a special relationship with Warner Cable that gives her access to secret information denied the public? More likely, Warner Cable’s attitude toward cable access–they could be making money off the channel–colors Conley’s opinions now that she oversees ACTV’s budget at City Hall.

Anyway, maybe it’s just Lashutka reverting back to his glory days when he chaired Citizens for Bork. You remember Bork? Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee who argued the doctrine of “original intent”–that the First Amendment only applies to the national government but not the states. And now it appears that it doesn’t apply in Lashutka’s Columbus.

And what about Lashutka’s trash policy? When Michael D. Long, director of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, demonstrates that it’s far cheaper to let the free market work and bury trash in the Franklin County landfill at $13 a ton, the mayor tells him to shut up and burn it at $32 a ton. Lashutka demands that Congress impose a costly and unwarranted “unfunded mandate” on local governments by enacting “flow control.”

Just like Soviet industry, Lashutka insists on a Brezhnev-era “command economy” measure to protect his inefficient, wasteful and polluting trash-burning power plant. And just like Soviet Communism, he’s willing to destroy the environment and poison people to promote the bankrupt and backward policies of his regime.

Now, if we can only get the Wolfe family lapdogs on the Dispatch editorial board to denounce Lashutka’s communism like they recently denounced Gus Hall, chairperson of the Communist Party USA. But both the mayor and the Dispatch editors conveniently ignore or rewrite history. Whether it’s belief in Bork one day or free speech the next, reality is twisted for political expediency.

The Dispatch editors write: “As Hall entered his golden years, a million, perhaps even three million, Cambodians were being murdered by their communist Khmer Rouge countrymen…” implying that there was a world Communist conspiracy. In reality, the U.S. was backing Cambodia’s leader Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge killers–they were Henry Kissinger’s guys–because they were Chinese Communist allies. The Soviets opposed Pol Pot and supported the Communist invasion to overthrow him. Moreover, the Dispatch turned a blind eye to Communist Chinese human rights abuses and shilled for their Son of Heaven exhibition in Columbus, even after that government ran over unarmed, peaceful and democratic students with tanks in Tianamen Square.

The Dispatch and Lashutka both understand and apologize for Chrysler’s need to build Jeeps in Hanoi, Vietnam, where the company can hire virtual slave labor for 40 cents an hour, that will surely lead to the inevitable closing of the Jeep plant in Toledo. Just last year, the Dispatch wrote glowingly of Governor Voinovich’s trade mission to Communist China where he personally negotiated sweetheart deals for major political donors, even though Amnesty International cited that country for “human organ harvesting” from political prisoners. But the authoritarian government that presides over more than a billion potential Chinese Wendy burger scarfers can’t be all bad.

The Soviet Communists rightly fell because they were undemocratic, bureaucratic and serving the interests of a small elite. Meet the new Columbus communist boss, same as the old Russian boss. Republished @ 10/24/2007 www.fraudbusterbob.com