St. Louis Oracle

St. Louis-based political forecasting plus commentary on politics and events from a grassroots veteran with a mature, progressive anti-establishment perspective.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Greens’ Marshall appears on community access TV

I tuned in to City Cable Channel 21 last night and saw “Green Time,” which showcased Green Party mayoral candidate Willie Marshall discussing his background and a number of important issues. With Marshall unable to generate much publicity in a contest dominated by incumbent Mayor Francis Slay’s multi-million dollar war chest, the program offered a rare detailed view of Marshall and his proposals. The program gives voters a chance to assess not only Marshall’s stands on the issues, but also his articulation of those issues and his demeanor in fielding the questions. Voters have assessed Slay the same way in his numerous televised interviews over the years.

Six of the ten scheduled airings of this program on City Cable Channel 21 remain before the election: Tonight (Monday, March 28) at 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 30 at 7:00 p.m., Friday, April 1 (no foolin’!) at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, April 2 at 12:30 p.m., Sunday, April 3 at 6:00 p.m., and Monday, April 4 at 8:30 p.m.

In the taped half-hour program, Marshall stated that the contest’s three most important issues are health, education and welfare. He accused city government of using children as “lead detectors,” acting against lead contamination only in response to specific lead poisoning cases. He advocated systematic testing for lead and proposed that the city provide lead-free housing for lead-poisoned children. He cited Milwaukee’s lead abatement program as being more effective than St. Louis.’

With regard to pesticide spraying in St. Louis (the Green Party’s signature issue in St. Louis), Marshall stated, “I’m against spraying, period.” The best solution, he said, was reliance on natural predators like dragonflies. Whenever spraying took place, he proposed having police cars travel city streets to warn people a half hour in advance. He also accused the mayor and aldermen of not acting to stop medical waste incineration in the city until after people protested.

Marshall’s harshest criticism was not for Slay, but for former Mayor Vince Schoemehl, and it had nothing to do with Schoemehl’s controversial actions on the city school board. He charged that Schoemehl’s administration (1981-93) shut down neighborhood recreation centers and health clinics, which Marshall blamed for the current obesity problem and the AIDS epidemic.

Marshall did not propose any new revenue sources to pay for his proposals. He said he would “find the money” by getting together with Comptroller Darlene Green, City Treasurer Larry Williams, and the city tax collector.

It should be noted in fairness that this interview of Marshall, while informative, was hardly unbiased. “Green Time” is sponsored by the Green Party of St. Louis/Gateway Green Alliance. Though repeatedly billed as a program to which both candidates were invited, only Marshall appeared. Program host Don Fitz, the long-time defacto leader of the local Green Party organization, led Marshall through his presentation with a series of friendly leading questions. Often Fitz stated the substance of an issue in lengthy questions to which Marshall only needed to respond “Right,” “Exactly” or the oft-repeated “Absolutely.” When Marshall proposed reopening closed schools as recreational centers, Fitz volunteered the reasoning for the proposal (that a ”multi-purpose” school could remain open using just a few of the classrooms for classes if other parts of the building were used for community recreation or other purposes).

The cable station contracts with GPSL/GaGA to produce environmental programming, which it airs five times a week for two weeks each. This particular program was entitled “Environmental Issues in the Mayor’s Race.” While Marshall’s discussion of issues like lead poisoning, pesticide spraying and medical waste incineration was legitimately environmental, the environmental relevancy of the war in Iraq, AIDS, school closings, city recreational centers, and the funding of Marshall’s proposals may have been a bit of a stretch. The first 20% of the program dealt strictly with Marshall’s biographical information.

The use of community access cable television to air political programs like this adds greatly to public’s awareness of important issues and the choices available to them when they vote. This is especially true when there is a disparity of resources available for publicizing candidates’ proposals. Of course, access to such programming should be equal to all parties and points of view, and I trust that is presently the case.


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March 13, 2006 at 12:05 AM  

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