News Hits 

Watt went wrong?

The Rev. Edwin Valentin never much cared for the term radio "pirate." Sure, he’s operated the tiny, 90-watt Christian Musical Radio in Pontiac since 1996 without the license required by the government. And the threat of a $5,000 fine continues to hang over his head.

But in a 1998 MT article, Valentin pointed out that "Pirates run and hide. We aren’t hiding from anybody." He considers it a First Amendment issue, and fought the FCC to maintain his free speech rights. He wasn’t alone. Across the country, supporters of so-called "micro-radio" stations fought for access to airwaves dominated by a handful of media conglomerates. And so, when the FCC last month issued orders that would allow small, noncommercial stations a legal place on the dial (see our News Hit report of 1/26/00), you would think there would be dancing in the halls at Valentin’s station.

Well, hold the music.

A little-noticed part of the FCC’s ruling has decreed that no station that has already been on the air illegally will be considered for one of the new licenses, a fact that has Valentin incensed.

"It was stations like us that caused this change," he points out. "I knew somehow they would try and find a way to shut us down."

Valentin, however, has no intention of calling it quits.

"We’re going to fight this all the way," he vows. "We’re staying here, and we’re staying on the air."

Hell night at club Heaven

Detroit Councilmember Maryann Mahaffey wants to find out exactly what went on when Detroit police officers raided a club called Heaven’s Playground on New Year’s Day.

Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the gay and lesbian Triangle Foundation, says it wasn’t pretty, as first reported in Between the Lines. In a letter to Chief Benny Napoleon, Montgomery writes, "Our reports indicate that the officers ... were rough and extremely inappropriate in their conduct of the operation."

How inappropriate?

"They said, ‘This is a raid. Stop all that dick sucking,’" alleged Montgomery in the letter. He also contends that officers were calling club patrons "faggot," "queer," and other "offensive and unnecessary epithets."

The purpose of the raid was also deemed "dubious." The official reason, according to Montgomery, was supposedly a weapons search. But he saw a different motive: "We believe that anti-gay harassment was the motivation behind this operation."

The Triangle Foundation is calling for an investigation to determine if the allegations are true. Mahaffey also wants answers. In a Jan. 20 letter to the chief, she posed a series of questions. For starters, she wants to know if an investigation has been conducted, and if not, why? She also asked the chief, "When will the Detroit Police Department initiate the sensitivity training the Ferndale Police Department has recently begun?"

As of last week the chief hadn’t responded.

Humbug push and shove

In this week’s installment of "As the Marsh Turns," we learn that environmental crusader Blair J. McGowan has obtained the support of a powerful left-wing organization known as the American Civil Liberties Union.

Adding to the intrigue are charges of solicitation!

OK, it’s not that kind of solicitation. Nevertheless ...

McGowan is accused of breaking a law that forbids the solicitation of votes within 100 feet of a polling place. An owner of historic St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit and a civic activist, McGowan, was arrested last November while taking an exit poll of voters during Gibraltar’s mayoral election. The heinous act was allegedly committed as part of an (ultimately successful) effort to boot local politicians who were ignoring the concerns of environmentalists by backing an upscale development that would plant expensive homes and a golf course on the Humbug Marsh, one of the last remaining undeveloped wetlands along the Detroit River.

According to Michigan ACLU Legal Director Mike Steinberg, McGowan was not soliciting votes and was well within his First Amendment rights to conduct an exit poll.

ACLU’s motion to dismiss the charges against McGowan was slated to go before 33rd District Court Judge James K. Kersten on Tuesday.

"I’m very grateful for ACLU’s representation in this little case," McGowan says. "You see the government pushing people around all the time, and sometimes people push back. In this situation, I’m pushing back."

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