Antioch Unified School District tables Burkholder Media proposal

The Antioch Unified School District Board has shelved a proposal by Superintendent Stephanie Anello, for Mike Burkholder, founder and publisher of the news website Eastcountytoday.net, to create a media platform, highlighting positive stories from the district. 

The idea, brought forth by Burkholder, an Oakley resident, called for the creation of a district news website and assistance with public outreach, as well as help with creating press releases and photography and implementing of a social-media strategy for $53,900 a year.

The board tabled the proposal last week after three of the district’s five board members expressed various concerns, and it became clear that the agreement wasn’t going to be approved. 

Anello said late last week she was unsure how she would proceed with the matter and didn’t know if another proposal would be brought forth in the future. 

The concerns of board members Walter Ruehlig, Debra Vinson and Crystal Sawyer-White centered on Burkholder’s conflict of interest as a local website publisher and former school-board candidate, lack of other bids for the work and the use of funds, which board members argued should be used for other purposes.

“I think a lot of us were stunned – I thought I had dirt in my eyes,” said Ruehlig, the board’s president. “Basically, my position is that the issue would have been problematic enough as is with all our other pressing district needs.”

Vinson declined to discuss the matter, because it is still ongoing, but said during the meeting that she had received phone calls expressing unease about the proposal.

“There is just a lot of concern,” she said. “A lot of people feel there is a conflict of interest.”

The three public speakers at the meeting all spoke against the proposal, touching on the perceived conflict of interest, Burkholder’s alleged verbal attack of one of his website’s readers and the desire to see the proposal’s funds go elsewhere.

Subsequent comments on social media reiterated public concerns.

“Glad to see Burkholder didn’t get the gig,” said Dave Roberts. “It was a crazy idea to spend so much money on such a negative person to put a positive face on a troubled district. Vinson is exactly right – it would do much more for the district’s image to spend that $53,900 to improve academic outcomes, rather than waste it on a flawed spin doctor.”

Anello said that the proposal had nothing to do with Burkholder’s website, Eastcountytoday.net, and that she didn’t seek other bids because the proposal was Burkholder’s own intellectual property, thus proprietary. She thought the proposal financially advantageous for the district, considering public-information officers in other districts usually cost about $125,000 a year when factoring in salary, benefits and a retirement package. 

“There are so many amazing students, employees and families in our district, doing fantastic things,” Anello said. “An AUSD media platform and an individual dedicated to highlighting their achievements would be a great benefit to the district and to the public at large.”

Burkholder said he was unsure if the district’s board or members of the public fully understood the proposal.

“If the proposal was better explained and they understood the benefits of all the components working together, I am confident it will move forward,” he said. “Following the decision, I’ve received a great deal of support from the community who could not understand why the board took no action. The comments were that they would like to see this type of service implemented by the school district and possibly by others, such as the City of Antioch.” 

According to the proposal, Burkholder would create a district website – using the EastCountytoday.net model – that would become ‘the single source for AUSD news and information.’ He would also work with the superintendent to identify positive stories or information that could be shared with the community, pitched to local media and shared on the district’s website and blog.

Burkholder said that undertaking such work wouldn’t be a conflict of interest.

“I do not see that there is a conflict of interest, because the content would be created by their stories, their photos and their comments,” he said. “They are not buying news, as some claim. They are creating their own and distributing information through platforms and processes created by Burkholder Media.”

Board member Diane Gibson-Gray, who believes the measure would have been approved if it had come from a different vendor or media outlet, said the district could benefit from increasing its online presence.

“I’ve often said that ‘absent information, people will make up their own,’ and this holds true for both positive and negative situations,” she said. “Building an AUSD community website, supported by social-media bundling, and building an audience will provide the opportunity to showcase positive stories, students, employees and more.”

view the complete proposal:

Burkholder Media Group Agreement

source

Project Veritas Releases Over 100 Hours of Audio From Inside CNN

James O’Keefe Offers $10,000 Award for Content Which Exposes Media Malfeasance

Anonymous Source Within CNN Provided Audio to Project Veritas

More Audio Yet to be Released in a WikiLeaks Style Dump 

Project Veritas released 119 hours of raw audio in a WikiLeaks style dump, with over 100 more hours still yet to be released. The audio was secretly recorded in 2009 by an anonymous source inside CNN’s Atlanta headquarters who we are identifying as Miss X. The tapes contain soundbites from current and previous CNN employees Joe SterlingArthur Brice, and Nicky Robertson, as well as numerous others. Project Veritas is also offering a $10,000 award for content that exposes media malfeasance. The tapes show CNN’s misrepresentation of polling data:

Miss X: “I read a CNN poll that was taken on June 26 and 28th, and I know that the hearing for the case, the fire fighters case was on the 29th, so the poll was done right before it, and those are still the poll results we’re reporting, so I asked someone in DC who does the poll results about why we hadn’t updated it, and said there were a few newer polls from last week and the week before and there’s CBS news polls and a Rasmussen poll, and he said we don’t use Rasmussen, and I said does CNN plan to do another poll if we’re only using that. He said we’re not going to be doing another poll, those are the results we’ll be using. So I don’t see how that’s reporting all sides because that poll said hold for release until Friday the 10th.”

Arthur Brice: “Who did you talk with?”

Miss X: “Paul [CNN’s Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser].”

Arthur Brice: “Yeah, he’s your director. Yeah, he’s pretty high up in the food chain. I agree. I think it’s dishonest to use outdated information if new information shows something that is in variance with what you’re reporting. It’s just, it’s dishonest.”

The same apathy towards reporting accurate poll numbers was seen in the way CNN released inaccurate poll numbers about Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor.

Miss X: “This wasn’t released until two weeks after. So can we say a newly released poll?”

Joe Sterling: “No, you can’t say that. You can’t say that at all. This isn’t a newly released.”

Miss X: “But it says newly released on Friday.”

Joe Sterling: “I know, how did we write about this? Did we write a wire about this? “I don’t think we stand to change how people think of her [Sotomayor]. Geez, I mean if someone picked this up it’s not going to change – it’s not going to change anybody’s opinion.”

Richard Griffiths, who is now CNN’s Vice President and Senior Editorial Director, was caught explaining that the role of a journalist is to “aid the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

“If we are journalists, what is our role as a journalist? What is the fundamental role as a journalist, for us to do? “Tell a story. Tell what’s going on. There’s a secondary corollary to that, right? Aid the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. To a degree, right? Is that not part of the traditional role of a journalist. It’s actually one of the things I can be most proud of as a journalist. You know we try to show the ugly side of humanity so we can do something about it. It’s hard, very hard.”

In the secretly recorded tapes, CNN’s liberal, anti-Republican, and anti-Fox News bias is clear. “Fox News, I think Fox News is unbearable. It’s horrible,” said Nicky Robertson, who was at that time the CNN Assignment Desk Editor. Joe Sterling, who was then the News desk editor for CNN’s online venue ‘The Wire’ was also recorded speaking profound liberal bias.

“That issue, climate change, I mean science is pretty much on board and there are a few dissenters. There’s no debate. It’s like you know, born-agains saying there’s a debate over, you know creationism, and all that stuff. There is no debate.”

“Project Veritas is determined to expose malfeasance, corruption and wrongdoing,” said Project Veritas founder and president James O’Keefe. “We want to become a destination where citizen journalists can come forward, work with us and make a real impact. That’s why today, we’re announcing a $10,000 award for anyone that comes forward with legally obtained materials exposing media malfeasance. If you have hidden audio recordings, video tapes or documents inside of a news room or media institution, and the material is good enough, I will pay you $10,000.”

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Bay Area Cities Prepare For 60 Days Without Hetch Hetchy Supply

In late December, the filtration tanks at a treatment plant in San Bruno were quietly filled with millions of gallons of raw water. 

At the same time, water was drained out of Mountain Tunnel, the century-old artery connecting the Bay Area to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, 175 miles away in Tuolumne County. From Tuesday through March 5, crews will traverse the 19-mile conduit making repairs and performing a rigorous inspection. Officials have known for years that the tunnel is at risk of catastrophic collapse. 

The shutdown will help them decide whether the tunnel can be saved or will need to be entirely replaced.

During those 60 days of inspections, San Francisco and other Bay Area cities will be cut off from their main water supply in the craggy heights in Yosemite National Park. Instead, water will come from four local water reservoirs and three treatment plants that will pump more than 150 million gallons a day to residents and businesses during the long closure. As water was filling the Harry Tracy Water Treatment Plant in San Bruno, plants in Half Moon Bay and Sunol Valley were also being prepared for heavy-duty work. 

The pipeline normally closes for maintenance for 30 days each year, but the last time it closed for double that time was in 1980, also for a thorough inspection. 

“It’s more challenging than what we have normally done,” said Steven Ritchie, assistant general manager of water enterprise at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

For starters, two of the treatment plants needed to be made ready, he said. “We’ve done a lot of work upping Harry Tracy and the Sunol Water Treatment Plant’s efficiencies,” Ritchie said. “There will still be plenty of water available, and we have contingency plans in place for the worst-case scenario if a disaster happens.” 

 

One week before commission officials closed the tunnel, more water volume than usual was allowed to rush down a series of pipes from the Crystal Springs Reservoir to the San Andreas Reservoir and then into the Harry Tracy plant. Globs of sediment and algae skimmed across the surface of the rust-colored water as it flowed through a series of channels. The water would later be filtered and sanitized at the plant. 

The 17 million-gallon water storage drum at Harry Tracy usually empties and fills two times a day at most. But as a full-time water supply source for San Francisco and the Peninsula after the tunnel shutdown, it will be replenished eight times daily — and that’s with the lower seasonal demand for water.

“We’ve been planning this shutdown for a decade,” said Paul Gambon, the water supply and treatment system operations manager at the commission. “This year is the big year because it will determine what the future looks like. There are a lot of unknowns. We are currently in the exploratory phase.”

Warning signs began showing 25 years ago, alerting officials that something was amiss in the tunnel built by miners nearly 100 years ago. Obstructions caused by the crumbling structure have decreased the volume of water pushing through Mountain Tunnel, data show, and concrete laid when the artery was built is disintegrating. A collapse in the system could take 270 days and cost more than $100 million to repair or $620 million to replace, according to the commission. 

Last fall, the agency spent $5 million to improve accessibility to the tunnel for workers, which is located at the bottom of a steep canyon in a remote stretch of Hetch Hetchy Valley. Crews increased the size of entry points and built wider gravel roads. 

This winter’s inspection will reveal whether the agency will need to repair the tunnel completely or build a new one. Renovating the conduit would mean shutting it down for two months every winter for up to 10 years. It’s the pricier but more reliable option, Ritchie said. 

During the tests, the taste and purity of San Francisco’s water won’t change, Ritchie said. The water stored in local reservoirs was funneled down from Hetch Hetchy. But because of fish and critters that live around the reservoirs, it needed extra filtering, he said. 

Nor will residents likely see any changes in service during the two months, said agency spokesman Charles Sheehan.

“Water is essential and necessary, which is why there is so much planning around this shutdown,” Sheehan said. “You can’t have interruptions in service the way you could with garbage pickup. People should have confidence that their water system won’t fail on them.”

At the Harry Tracy plant, machines churned and hummed. Dirty water rushed in, and clean water left in its place. 

Lizzie Johnson is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: ljohnson@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @LizzieJohnsonnn