Archive for April, 2016


April 24, 2016


Perhaps even more unsettling than the shocking news of his untimely death were the mysterious revelations that quickly followed.

Prince was found alone last Thursday morning, dead for hours, slumped to the floor at the bottom of an elevator in his lavish 65,000 square foot Paisley Park studio complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota, just outside Minneapolis. The $10 million edifice features two recording studios, a sound stage with rehearsal room, private offices, an underground parking garage, an outdoor basketball court and a solid steel basement bank vault containing hundreds upon hundreds of hours of unreleased master recordings — potentially worth as much as the current value of his estate, already estimated at more than three hundred million dollars.

Prince Rogers Nelson left this all behind at the age of 57, unmarried and childless, his immediate living relatives being one sister and seven half-siblings. His father, John Lewis Nelson, died in 2001 and his mother, Mattie Della Shaw, passed in 2002.

Was it inadvertently death by faith?

Although there is ample testimony from multiple sources that, unlike rock star peers, Prince assiduously avoided drugs and alcohol throughout his entire professional life, recent times may have seen him resort to powerful narcotic relief from chronic hip pain following decades of highly energized concert performances.

Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, he became a Jehovah’s Witness in 2003 and was consequently reluctant to undergo a strongly recommended double hip replacement due to that sect’s proscription against blood transfusions.

Although a full autopsy has been conducted, it may be weeks before a final cause of death is officially pronounced. Convincing evidence has been released, however, suggesting that Prince apparently suffered an overdose of the prescription drug Percocet a week before he died while flying back to Minnesota following what turned out to be a final performance in Atlanta.

Percocet is a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone. It features a high risk of addiction and dependence.

All of that sadly stated, Prince stands alone and unchallenged as the ultimate musical performer of his generation. Borrowing a phrase from the #1 global hit he wrote for Sinead O’ Connor in 1990 – nothing compares. Or even comes close.

I was running top-rated radio stations in the Midwest when Tipper Gore, wife of then Senator and future Vice-President, Al Gore, joined a handful of woeful, woebegone Washington hand ringers without much else to do and formed “The Parents Music Resource Center” in 1984. This was in reaction to having heard “Darling Nikki” by Prince from his enormously successful film, “Purple Rain”. Tipper identified Prince as being “a public menace.” Inspired by such lunacy, I authorized every cut from the soundtrack for airplay on our facilities, believing then, as I do now, that “Rock & Roll” is ultimately an attitude – rock music being an important, but not exclusive form of expression.

It’s also no surprise learning more about Prince’s deeply held spiritual beliefs, a serious commitment to transcendental, eternal values readily evident in any fair, unprejudiced review of his music through the years.

And I agree with the late Kurt Vonnegut that all music is sacred. Vonnegut wrote, “Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God. It is so extraordinarily full of magic, and in tough times of my life I can listen to music and it makes such a difference.”

 Here in Oakhurst, we’re in for a rare treat this Saturday night at 7 PM when the Mariposa Symphony Orchestra appears at Sierra Vista Church as part of an historic five county orchestral tour in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service.

Les Marsden, Founder and Conductor of the Orchestra, promises that his commemorative musical work, “Our Nation’s Nature” is “a cycle of four distinct, unique, large-scale symphonic poems united by shared thematic materials composed accessibly in my personal style with respect, awe and love for our great outdoors.”

 The public is most cordially invited to attend this extraordinary performance and early arrival is surely suggested.

“Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?

Oh, no. Let’s go!”

Prince – “Let’s Go Crazy!” (1984)





“Saudi Duty Time”

April 17, 2016


It’s an obligation they owe the free world.

It’s high time for Saudi Arabia’s Royal Family, a.k.a. “the government,” to dutifully step up and accept responsibility for their clandestine involvement in fueling radical Islamic terrorism in recent years and, as well, to provide significantly increased economic and military aid driven by dedicated Arab leadership in a unified international effort to crush ISIS at home and abroad.

Anything less perpetuates an unacceptable status quo.

President Obama traveled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia yesterday to discuss counterterrorism and regional security threats with Gulf state allies. Subjects under review are bolstering missile defense systems, dealing with escalating threats from cyber hacking and possibly a particularly thorny issue that has arisen with the Saudi regime over potential financial liability stemming from the 9/11 attacks on New York’s Twin Towers.

Although generally ignored by a national media currently diverted into incessant, round the clock, blow by blow coverage of this election cycle’s pugilistic presidential primaries, it turns out that Congress is about to conclude consideration of bipartisan legislation that has the Saudis issuing ominous threats.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senator John Cornyn (R- Texas) are co-sponsoring a slightly revised version of “JASTA” – the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.” This bill, under discussion for the last several years, would allow victims of terrorism to pursue foreign states and individual supporters of terrorism with direct financial damage claims in American courts. It would also prohibit the invocation of “sovereign immunity” as a defense against such liability, specifically when an American is killed on American soil.

This measure is now up for final approval in the Senate as S. 2040 and before the House as H.R. 3815. It stands in stark contrast to business as usual in this bitterly divided 114th Congress. Along with heavy support from Schumer and Cornyn, it enjoys backing from an unlikely coalition of liberal and conservative senators such as Al Franken (D-Minn) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). It passed though the Senate Judiciary Committee in January without a single dissent

Last month, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir delivered a message from the kingdom to Washington threatening to sell $750 billion (three quarters of a trillion dollars) in U.S. Treasury securities and other assets it holds in the United States if the bill is passed and signed into law by the President. The Obama administration is opposing “JASTA” in what can only be described as a matter of diplomatic pragmatism, believing it’s simply not practical to embarrass and antagonize a traditionally reliable and vitally strategic ally unless resorting to such is utterly unavoidable.

Although Saudi Arabia has long denied any involvement in condoning or supporting the nightmare of 9/11, it does seem reasonable to suggest after almost fifteen years that certain persons and/or elements in Saudi society were quite possibly major contributors to the debacle. Perhaps “probably” would be more precise. It’s not difficult believing there were and are those of wealthy means more than willing to enthusiastically fund terror elsewhere in the world as extortive insurance against having it strike at home. Throughout history, that’s how bullies get by.

Osama bin Laden was a Saudi. Of the nineteen September 11th hijackers affiliated with al-Qaeda, 15 were citizens of Saudi Arabia. The others were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon.

Not one was from Iraq, a sovereign nation we invaded on March 20th of 2003 with a subsequent loss of thousands of American lives, tens of thousands of Iraqi lives (primarily civilians) and trillions of taxpayer dollars wasted at war.

One of the most sobering memories of The Iraq Conflict was a slogan emphatically referenced at the outset and often repeated since — the proudly declarative, defiantly patriotic phrase: “We Will Not Forget!”

Has the time come to remember with proper response?

I’d give a rousing cheer.

“Hotter Happenings”

April 10, 2016


Any delusions that Bernie Sanders should be dismissively regarded as a kindly old grandfather type were shattered into shards last Wednesday after the senator unleashed a sharp, heated response to headlines in the Washington Post alleging that Hillary Clinton had declared him “unqualified” to run for President.

It’s all in how you look at it.

When Mrs. Clinton was specifically asked earlier that day by Joe Scarborough on MSNBC whether Senator Sanders was fit to occupy The White House, she was careful to avoid actually using the word “qualified”, but clearly and cleverly implied he wasn’t – specifically calling into question his overall truthfulness and political expertise. In a speech later that night in Philadelphia, Bernie didn’t hold back – categorically stating that Hillary, herself, was assuredly not “qualified” due to her support of the War in Iraq, her acceptance of millions of dollars in campaign contributions from Wall Street and other concerning issues. And Sanders certainly did use the “Q” word. Functionally, according to Webster, that’s the same as the “E” word – as in –“Eligible.”

For purposes of clarity, the Constitution states:

“No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.” Article II, Section I, Clause 5.

That’s it. Period. There are no other qualifications or quantifications required to be President.

So Hillary and Bernie are both qualified for the presidency, as are Donald Trump, John Kasich and probably Ted Cruz, although he was born in Canada – unnaturally or not. There are probably a hundred million more of us similarly suitable and even Hillary and Bernie have now backed off the subject, but that’s the first time edgy campaign tempers have so dramatically flared in the Democratic race, even as Republican counterparts continue careening toward a colossal collision in Cleveland.

It won’t be pretty.

Cleveland is Detroit without the panache.

July is the hottest month of the year in Cleveland with an average daytime temperature of 83 degrees, accompanied by a sweltering humidity of 86% and relatively restless residents.

The 2016 Republican Convention will take place from July 18th through the 21st within the marginally air conditioned confines of Quicken Loans Arena. For a party ostensibly dedicated to decreased governmental borrowing, pardon me for noting a certain irony in choice of venue.

It now appears certain that attendees will either face the nightmare of an immediate first vote Donald Trump victory — or more probably encounter the potentially worse horror of a wildly contested, no holds barred, wide open convention — brokered, if not ultimately broken.

Not to be outdone by the G.O.P. in saluting financial institutions or enduring heavy heat, The National Democratic Convention is scheduled for the following week from July 25th through the 28th at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with an average daytime temperature of 87 degrees and 93% humidity.

The Democratic nomination still appears Hillary’s to lose, although Bernie Sanders has already so far achieved the impossible in his incredible run against formidable odds, enjoying recent victories in state after state.

Next Tuesday’s New York primary is obviously critical. An unanticipated win there and subsequent miracle victories up through our own California voting on June 7th could bring about one of the most significant political shifts in American history and genuine initiation of the desired revolution at the heart of Sander’s campaign.

Bernie is polling better than Secretary Clinton against all possible Republican opponents, consistently demonstrating superior strength among the young and with independent voters.

And November remains more than a full half-year away.



“Landmark Legislation”

April 10, 2016


This week Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation making California the first state in the nation to approve a $15 minimum hourly wage.

Even though it will be six years until fully realized, this is a landmark achievement and long overdue.

The current minimum wage of $10 will be increased to $10.50 in January of next year, then to $11.00 in January of 2018. It will subsequently be raised $1 a year until it reaches $15 in 2022. Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees will get an extra year to effect these adjustments. Provisions have been made to slow overall implementation in the event unanticipated recessionary or budgetary challenges arise in the future.

With a full one-third of California’s workforce currently being paid the minimum wage and often cynically expected to live on such, arguments that $10 an hour should be regarded as “entry level” compensation exclusively limited to novice employees are as absurd as they are self-serving.

Similarly preposterous is the claim that capitalism and socialism are diametrically opposed – an archaic notion now cleverly revived with sinister malice by the surprisingly well-received presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, his candidacy especially supported by enthusiastic younger demographics. Senator Sanders proposes having the Federal government follow California’s example by increasing the minimum to $15 an hour nationally.

I have previously discussed my own experiences being on both sides of a picket line in earlier days, initially as “Audit Man” for Local 46 of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) in Michigan when I was a young DJ at WTAC in Flint, Michigan, then eventually negotiating with the union for management as President and CEO at that same facility ten years later.

This was in Flint — home of the United Auto Workers and site of the historic 1936 Sit-down strike at General Motors that brought forth a now disappearing American Middle Class.

Flint taught me these three things:

Unrestrained unionism yields anarchistic chaos.

Unchecked management breeds aristocratic tyranny.

Blessed is the balance.

Balance is always a precarious proposition.

There’s a long history of who gets what in return for a day’s work.

Ironically, the first modern wage laws date back to feudal times in 1389 and a decree by King Edward III of England, a wealthy landowner, that set a maximum amount lords and vassals might pay their serfs. The Black Plague of 1348 had decimated the population, seriously driving up labor costs. With a majestic frown, those wages came down. But it wasn’t long before equitable payment to the under classes became tied to the cost of food when a “living wage” was established with “The Statute of Laborers” in 1389.

The pendulum has swung back and forth for centuries.

There can be no doubt that one of the most politically conservative and wildly successful entrepreneurs in American history was the legendary Henry Ford, who shocked his industrial peers in 1914 by introducing the “socialistic travesty” of a “Five Dollar Day” at his plants in Detroit. In fact, Henry’s decision not only immediately doubled workers’ pay, but also reduced their workday from nine to eight hours.

As stated on the Ford Motor Company website, Workers entered the middle class, and could afford to buy the cars they built. Henry Ford became a hero to millions. And eventually, other manufacturers had to follow suit.”

 The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 under the Administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt first introduced statutory minimum wages in The United States. This brought about such radical notions as guaranteeing a forty-hour workweek, setting Ford’s eight-hour workday as a national standard, providing time and a half for overtime pay and condemning “oppressive child labor.” As industrialization had moved workers from farms into urban factory employment, children were often preferred as employees since owners considered them more manageable, cheaper and less likely to strike.

 And Henry Ford is not the only conservative voice of sound business practice ringing down to us through the years.

“It is a serious national evil that any class of His Majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions” – Sir Winston Churchill – April 28, 1909

Take that, King Edward.






April 10, 2016

FCC Complaint

It’s simply a matter of accountability to our community.

In certain specific situations, the Federal Communication Commission licenses “Low Power FM” stations to provide geographically limited populations such as Oakhurst with local radio programming otherwise unavailable.

Such service is designed to offer area clubs, churches, schools, educational forums and other non-profit organizations an opportunity to discuss issues, promote events, and otherwise exchange thoughts and ideas on an interactive, participatory basis.

When the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011 with strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “Low Power FM stations are small, but they make a giant contribution to local community programming.”

 In comparative hearings for “Low Power FM” facilities, applicants are graded on such items as a commitment to “originate locally at least eight hours of programming a day” and “maintain a publicly accessible main studio that has local program origination capability, is reachable by telephone, and is staffed at least 20 hours per week between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.”

There are numerous other mandatory technical and regulatory responsibilities — particularly rigid requirements to maintain a public inspection file, make available for inspection a political file tracking requests for candidate and/or issue discussion, and to regularly file ownership reports in a timely manner.

The sudden, mysterious appearance of KOLS-LP (98.5 FM) last summer on our Oakhurst radio dials generated extended inquiry that had now culminated in the filing of a formal complaint with the Federal Communication Commission calling for a full investigation into the construction and operation of this illegal station.

I have signed and submitted to the Federal Communications Commission a sworn affidavit stating the following:

“Peter Cavanaugh, a resident of Oakhurst, California, hereby states the following under penalty of perjury:

 I am an occasional listener of radio station KOLS-LP. I have noticed:


  1. KOLS-LP does not broadcast any local programming;
  2. It does not have a main studio;
  3. It does not have a political file;
  4. It does not have a public inspection file and
  5. It has not filed ownership reports.


I am disappointed that KOLS-LP is in flagrant violation of the Commission’s rules and urge that the Commission initiate an investigation.”

 After considerable evaluation and review by Washington attorneys and several informal discussions with regulators, it was determined best to file an initial narrative limited to certain easily verifiable technical violations, leaving many other pertinent issues subject to eventual investigative inclusion. Even so, the complaint is 65 pages long.

KOLS-LP broadcasts from the roof of a vacation home in Cedar Valley, a full 7.5 miles from our Oakhurst town center at the junction of California Highways 41 and 49. Father Daniel White of Winnetka, California – a Los Angeles suburb – is said to own the home. White is listed as President of “Radio Catholic” – a self-created, nonprofit religious corporation. Although the KOLS-LP call letters are alleged to represent “Our Lady of the Sierra,” Pastor Joel Davadilla did not authorize the project and has stated he knows little about it. Nor does the Diocese of Fresno.

100% of current KOLS-LP airtime exclusively consists of national EWTN programming originating in Birmingham, Alabama — this fare already easily accessible in Oakhurst on Sirius/XM Radio, both Dish and Direct Satellite TV, and via the Internet.

Founded by 92 year-old Franciscan nun Mother Mary Angelica, EWTN – ‘Eternal Word Television” is the largest religious media network in the world, reaching over 230 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. EWTN does not permit inclusion of non-Catholic religious programming in its broadcast day.

Repeating my closing words from a November column, we need “Community Radio” in Oakhurst to be truly “catholic” in nature, a word defined in Webster’s as being “of general scope or value; all-inclusive; broad in sympathy, tastes and understanding.”

That means for all people, parties, pursuits and persuasions.

Including input from the 20+ local churches of different denominations highlighted on page 6A of last week’s Easter issue of The Sierra Star.

And the 75+ area groups and organizations listed on page 7A’s “Community Calendar.”

As intended.