((This page was composed in 2008. Fortunately things have changed for the better. Currently - Spring 2013 - the board of the MEC has changed and there is new management at KMEC. I have confidence in Dennis O'brien, Sandy Turner and Ed Neives in leadership positions at the MEC. ))
How The MEC Was Lost
and Found Again
The MEC is the Mendocino Environmental Center located at 106 W. Standley St., Ukiah, CA. For the broad picture covering the years from 2005 - 2008 and beyond see "Why Bother With The MEC?"
The diagrams and details below show graphically exactly when and how a few people took over a little committee, named themselves leaders and formed a little group that acted conspiratorially to keep control of the organization and it's new low power FM radio station.
KZYX at the MEC? Never!
The purpose of the takeover was not only to maintain control of the radio station but to insure that the MEC would NOT affiliate with KZYX. It was that simple. Keeping KZYX out of KMEC was behind the smokescreen of attacks against me and a few others who dared to speak out. At that moment I was seen as a threat to the in-group because I had been on the board of KZYX and was still close to what was going on there, and I had worked with Ukiah folks to try to get a KZYX satellite in the Ukiah area. During my time on the board the idea was rebuffed by KZYX management (Diane Herring, GM) in 2004. .
Then, just as the MEC/KMEC facility was completed early in 2006, the management changed at KZYX, The new interim manager, Mitchel Holman was open-minded about making some connection with the Ukiah studio group. He offered to hook up an internet feed for a part-time KZYX studio somewhere in Ukiah. Several of us, including Govinda Dalton and me. and a growing number of others wanted to share part of the space we had just built for the MEC. It seemed like a great way to connect the MEC membership and our county-wide aspirations. KMEC would do as it had always planned to do, to broadcast to the Ukiah Valley, but the MEC would also house a connection to KZYX, the county wide community station.
It was that idea that really panicked the MEC conspirators, especially Station Manager Chris Bennett. Every effort was made to scuttle the proposal, and it was never even really discussed. Chris would fly into a rage at the mention of KZYX. He vowed that he would never allow KZYX in the building.
The attitude---that the MEC must not share facilities with KZYX---is probably still around, in spite of efforts by Govenda Dalton and a few others to change things.
Whether the chance for the MEC to share faculties with KZYX could happen again is not clear. KZYX has it own xenophobia, a mirror image of the psychosis at little KMEC.
Both organizations, KZYX and the MEC are community membership nonprofits. The leadership of both organizations have opposed, often vehemently, the obvious and natural connection between the county wide radio station and its largest city, Ukiah.
And so it goes its boring way.
Both KZYX and KMEC go on, each less than it could be, and each less transparent than it should be.
Spring 2013. The MEC is Found Again:
Things look a lot better! After years of internal turmoil, the MEC has recovered. New more community oriented leaders, including Sandy Turner, O'Brien, Ed Nieves and others. are bringing the MEC back to a viable membership organization. I am happy to be a dues-paying member again.
Volunteer and MEC member
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P.S. For those who may still be interested in how nasty the MEC was back in 2005, here are the boring details of the original takeover: Don't let this happen again, please.
The following diagrams were originally drawn up in the fall of 2005 to support outreach by the Mendocino Center. It soon became evident that there was a lot of resistance to reaching out. "Diagram 4" (below) shows how a committee established to help save the MEC was taken over and used to subvert the democratic process. Four people, Sid Cooperrider, Ukiah and Callie Morrison, and Jenny Shakman, claimed to be the "official" MEC Survival Committee." The "Rules" they set up were shamelessly exclusive and self-serving.
The “Rules" of the Official Survival Committee
(Quoted from their first announcement)
• “Only committee members attend, except by invitation”
• “All in attendance voted in themselves as committee members.“
• “The committee voted Sid Cooperrider leader for an unspecified time.”
• “The Survival Committee ... should become the KMEC/MEC interface, therefore also becoming the MEC board.”
Diagram 4, is a timeline of events that shows in detail how the "official survival committee" was used to take control of MEC and KMEC and exclude those with more democratic ideas. The fact that such a blatant maneuver was accomplished is shocking no matter how you look at it. It was technically possible because the Board of Directors had dwindled to only two or three people, including Chris Bennett and Steve Scalmanini. Chris Bennett fully supported the coup and Steve Scalmanini, to his discredit, actually joined the junta and gave the scheme a semblance of legitimacy.
For more about the MEC's history from 2006 - 2008, see the Media Forum.
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Three other diagrams are also available here. They have to do with the physical and social position of the MEC in the Ukiah Area:
Diagram_1 shows community organizations in the Ukiah area.
Diagram 2 shows the MEC and its radio station, KMEC, in the context of local media and meeting places.
Diagram_3 shows MEC working groups, summer 2006