Ellen’s Twilight: A Time for Evenhandedness and Constitutional Tolerance

first_imgThe abrupt closure last Saturday of Benoni Urey’s radio station, situated at 10th Street, Sinkor, is a highly disturbing development indeed. A Ministry of Information press release issued Sunday by Deputy Minister Isaac Jackson said the closure action was executed by the Civil Law Court. But the press as well as bystanders and passersby observed a full contingent of officers of the Police Support Unit (PSU) and the Emergency Response Unit (ERU), clad in full riot gear, standing outside the radio station, as though in full readiness for combat.One bystander remarked that the scene was a vivid reminder of the frequent attacks which the Samuel K. Doe and People’s Redemption government launched against the Daily Observer newspaper in the 1980s. What is most disturbing about this terribly unfortunate incident is that this is the third time the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government has moved to close down a media house. That is apart from the closure in November 2011 of Kings FM, Love FM (now LIB-24) and Power FM/TV. These closures were in connection with a riot at the party headquarters of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), executed on the eve of the election run-off between the incumbent President Sirleaf’s Unity Party and the CDC. The GOL said that in taking that action against the three electronic media outlets, GOL attempted to preempt a Rwanda-style radio broadcast that incited people to riot and kill. The three closures we refer to in this editorial are directly related to actions by these media houses which GOL deemed were particularly critical of the presidency. The first was in 2014 when government summarily shut down The Chronicle newspaper owned and operated by Philipbert Browne. This newspaper had been launching a persistent campaign calling for an alleged “interim government” that it said was in the making to unseat the incumbent national leadership headed by President Sirleaf. The second, which occurred on July 4, 2016, was the closure of the Voice FM operated by Henry Costa, whose highly controversial talk show were very critical of the country’s current political administration. Costa then moved his talk show to Mr. Urey’s LIB-24 FM. Costa’s prime offense this time was a letter allegedly written by President Sirleaf to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler, proposing a certain change in the statues. Costa conjectured that the letter had something to do with the Global Witness allegations of several government officials who involved in changing some of the country’s laws and regulations to accommodate the mining interests of the UK-based Sable Mining. Costa, in his talk show last week, interpreted the President’s letter to the Speaker to mean that she was the one whom Global Witness called “Big Boy 1.”That, too, was, in Costa’s typical style, highly explosive; and that may have tipped the sudden action against Urey’s station, which Costa was now using to air his broadcasts.It is not clear how or whether Costa definitively linked the President to any wrong doing by her letter to Tyler. We do not see how the President’s letter to Tyler linked her to any impropriety. Be that as it may, we are deeply saddened by the government’s over reaction. There are two reasons: first, this has brought the whole Global Witness allegations into sharper public focus and has forced people to sit up and think and listen and speak out and do their own investigation in a matter that seemed to be dying down already.We are deeply saddened, secondly, because we cannot see how this closure of yet another media house can help the President’s image—and legacy. There have been numerous criticisms against her administration. However, the one thing that people have unequivocally credited her with is her tolerance of media criticism. Here is a Liberian President who has staunchly followed President Tolbert’s lead in rejecting the iron bar that President Tubman imposed on freedom of speech and of the press. As far as Tubman, Doe and Charles Taylor were concerned, these freedoms were nowhere in the Liberian Constitution. And yet they were—and are—and despite the draconian laws still on our books, President Sirleaf has effectively avoided using them against the media, and actually constantly advocated their repeal.That is why she became only the second African leader to sign the Table Mountain Declaration.We pray that the President will maintain the tolerance she has exercised since her tenure began in 2006 and deal evenhandedly with the media on the high moral ground of constitutional faithfulness and tolerance.At the same time, we urge all our media colleagues to be equally evenhanded and fair to all whom they cover.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Latest elephant plan not peanuts

first_img The estimated cost: $38.7 million, to be financed through $25 million in pre-approved Proposition A and CC bond funds; $11 million borrowed from the city’s Municipal Improvement Corp.; $1 million from city coffers; and $2 million in private donations. “Sounds expensive,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “Notwithstanding the political symbolism, Republicans should not even stand for this. People can drive 100 miles to San Diego Wild Animal Park.” Villaraigosa, who had not read the proposal, reiterated Friday afternoon his general opposition to keeping elephants in zoos. “My interest is in ensuring our elephants are healthy and safe and I believe they are safer when they are not in zoos,” Villaraigosa said. “I need to digest this proposal.” The mayor, who has pledged to eliminate the city’s nearly $300 million budget deficit within five years, said he appreciates that the majority of the elephant proposal comes from bonds and private sources. Critics were quick to denounce the size of an exhibit they say is too small for elephants used to more space in the wild. “It wouldn’t be enough,” said Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, who introduced a bill last month to require zoos to maintain at least five acres for up to three elephants. “Elephants need more space than that.” “Its cruel to the elephants – that exhibit will take four to six years to build,” added Melya Kaplan, executive director for Voice for the Animals, an animal-welfare group. “It is basically fiscally irresponsible for the city to spend this kind of money for a substandard exhibit.” Dana Bartholomew, (818) 713-3730 dana.bartholomew@dailynews.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant The Elephants of Surin exhibit, once forecast to cost $19 million for two acres, was put on hold for more than a year while the mayor commissioned a study of the zoo’s elephant quarters. The study, released in December by the City Administrative Office, recommended that the zoo enlarge the elephant quarters from a half-acre to three acres. In a letter sent Friday to the mayor, Los Angeles Zoo General Manager John Lewis outlined plans for an elephant exhibit that would be among the largest of any urban zoo in the nation. The proposed exhibit would create a grassland with water holes, waterfalls and natural surfaces for walking and standing, as well as ultrasound equipment for elephant care. “This exhibit will further solidify the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens as one of the city’s leading cultural institutions,” Lewis wrote. Despite a city budget shortfall of $300 million, the Los Angeles Zoo proposed Friday building a 3.5-acre exhibit, at a cost of nearly $40 million, to house its three elephants. While revised plans for a three-acre exhibit drew high praise from City Councilman Tom LaBonge and other city officials, critics called it a pachyderm-size bungle during a severe budget crunch. And animal-welfare activists, who’d won a campaign promise from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to close the zoo’s elephant digs, vowed to continue their campaign to have the animals sent to a sanctuary. “This is wonderful for Los Angeles and for children young and old to have the best pachyderm exhibit in the country,” said LaBonge, whose district includes the zoo. “We’re going to come up with the money, because the children of Los Angeles deserve it.” last_img read more