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LOCAL NEWSPAPER CONTINUES EMPHASIS ON COMMUNITY DIVISIVENESS

Nisqually Valley News publisher/editor Graves says that my words printed in his newspaper last Friday to fellow Yelm Chamber members were “not-so-thinly-veiled threats to personalize local businesses”. The title of his editorial was “Debate is good, threats aren’t.” A published front-page headline read “RSE officials lash out at interview

Mr. Graves,
There was no threat of any kind mentioned; rather a clear and concise request to bring out into the open those Yelm Chamber members that are represented by Mr. Cunningham’s malevolent story in your newspaper and would prefer to not have RSE students’ business. You misinterpret through your own veiled view and don’t even call to ask or investigate the context of my letter. Let’s get this issue out in the open once and for all, Mr. Graves and find out who does not want our dollars, for this kind of intolerance and downright bigotry has been expressed here by local officials for far too long; views you demonstrate to uphold.

You say “debate is good”, yet at every turn you squelch any such forum.
You condemn any views not in alignment with your own and attempt character assassination with slanderous comments; a true, modern-day, town-square stoning.
Your bias in your journalism has been evident for years.
Do I expect that to change. No.
Do I hope that changes. YES!

Ever since I went public in Fall, 2005 with the fact that you would not print the news that then-Mayoral candidate Harding declined to participate in your NVN sponsored Town Hall, you have attempted to deride me personally. Was that what a newspaper should do — an editor agreeing to withhold information from the voters and their readers? Fine, a public person running for or in-office should be prepared to take such hits. However, I am not a candidate for any public office now and have previously announced (and printed in your newspaper) I am not a candidate for any public office in 2009. To make note of and publish my patronage of Safeway & Starbucks is indicative of just how personal and low you go. You practice the fine art of prejudicial reporting seemingly right out of Karl Rove’s Playbook.

Do I buy flowers at Yelm Safeway and coffee at Starbuck’s? Absolutely!
And I have been a good customer of Yelm Floral for almost 2 decades, Blue Bottle Espresso & Liquid Soul Cafe, as their owners will attest. And, featured stories about all of them on this blog!
Yet, you failed to note I have never set foot in Yelm’s Wal-Mart.

What about your local spending?

You can belittle all you want, yet you have done little to balance your prejudicial reporting with the contributions my wife and I have made to this community totaling over $110,000 in the last 10 years, distributed to such local organizations as the:
– Yelm Timberland Library
– Yelm Prairie Arts Assn.
– Drew Harvey Theater
– UCBO Thanksgiving Day food drive
– Children’s School of Excellence student Scholarships and a new computer lab donation
– Yelm Dollar’s for Scholars annual Scholarships to Yelm & Rainier High School students
– Yelm’s Pennies for Pupils
– annual gift to the Yelm Tree Fund
– Friends of the Yelm Library
– Yelm City Park flag memorial
– and turkeys for EVERY needy family on UCBO’s list for Christmas, 2007, the largest holiday turkey donation in Yelm history.
These are but a few, in addition to smaller donations for worthy causes all over town.

in addition to serving on the:
– Yelm Library Advisory Board
– Yelm Prairie Arts Assn. Board
– Yelm Historical Preservation Board

Name a few of your contributions you and your family have given since moving to this town?
How much did your newspaper donate to local causes the last 10 years?

You requested your readers go to Safeway, Wal-Mart and others and ask them to place their advertising inserts with the NVN, rather than their choice to bypass your newspaper and advertise via a direct mailing. Why?

Condemning others that have differing views is your modus-operandi.
I am saddened to continue to witness the divisiveness that this newspaper spews forth to area readers week after week. NVN readers are the beneficiary of a lack of thorough reporting on a whole host of issues with bias in not delivering balanced coverage. Our community therefore is robbed by the misuse of the leadership position you have as the only print media in this town.

Where is this newspaper in reporting truly newsworthy issues?
As just one example, I saw no NVN reporter present in the courtroom last week when the City of Yelm was defendant in a case taken out of Yelm’s jurisdiction by JZ Knight and into Thurston County Superior Court. Don’t you and your readers think that was an important case? After all, it centers on what the City of Yelm purports is the ability of the city to provide water for new developments. And, the city came out of that court room with several embarrassments by their attorneys.

Are you going to condemn those who run for local public office in 2009 that have differing views?
Many that would be willing to serve the public do not step forward because they do not want to be subjected to such tactics.
If that happens, the voters of Yelm will be stuck with only the incumbents and have no choice on the ballot for City Council openings in 2009, as happened in 2007. That would be a shame. For instance, will any mayoral candidate come forward to oppose Ron Harding next year and give voters a choice for mayor?
So few people are involved in city government now yet you continue to berate those that speak-up to question city policies. Look what happened because the public was not involved in their government; Thurston County was caught off-guard when the Commissioners announced they did not have their eye on the ball, leaving the county with a multi-million dollar deficit and having to cutback services.

The Constitution of the United States or what’s left of it demands dissent by the public. You and city officials want it squelched at every turn.

Hopefully, the Karl Rove playbook days are soon coming to an end in Washington, D. C. One can only hope those days will end in Yelm soon, too!

As I wrote in my letter you published on October 3rd,
“This town can continue to be polarized based on intolerances of a certain individual or group in judging others’ views or we can see this as an opportunity to put all of these type of distractions aside and join arm in arm to confront the many challenges we have as neighbors in the Nisqually Valley;
from water,
to traffic,
funding for a Bypass,
a new Library,
Schools bursting at the seams,
city budget issues,
a county deficit where services are to be cut,
home foreclosures,
neighboring Roy going broke
and a looming recession where we have sadly witnessed several venerable Yelm businesses having closed and others are on the edge.

United we stand, divided we fall.
The choice is in our hands…. ”

Posted by Steve on October 4, 2008 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

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9 comments

  1. I have often had the same thought about the Minutes, Liz – that the reports are not attached or accessible unless you happen to have stored the link when the report was active, which I do on matters of interest.

    Have you also noticed that the same is true for the NVN since they went to a new web format — stories older than 3 weeks are inaccessible unless you happen to have archived the link. Plus, Mr. Graves editorials and Letters to the Editor are no longer placed on the NVN website. HMMM!

    Comment by Steve on October 5, 2008 at 5:33 pm

  2. [Ed. Note: This Letter was not published in the Oct. 10th NVN and is provided here by the author as a courtesy to the Yelm Community Blog.]

    To the NVN Editor;

    Many of the Baby Boomers and their parents before them, grew up thinking that newspapers were unbiased, presenting journalistic investigation on both sides of the issues.

    For many of us, those rose colored glasses came off as big corporations gobbled up the media, subtly influencing and
    then controlling the presentation of news and facts to suit the beliefs of the owner(s) or stockholders so that the “truth” of any one topic has been altered to affect
    and/or sway the public sentiment or perception.

    The same can be said of the Nisqually Valley News, now under the direction of Lafromboise Communications, Inc.

    Current Yelm Councilman Don Miller spent 42 years as the editor and publisher of the Nisqually Valley News.

    Shortly after Yelm became a city, an ordinance was
    passed making the Nisqually Valley News “the official newspaper of Yelm City Hall.” That little statement goes a long way in explaining why certain stories get special coverage in our “home town” paper, and certain
    stories do not, but do your readers know that?

    In my limited encounters with Kevin Graves, Manager
    of the NVN, I have found him to be a most pleasant
    fellow, but he has superiors to whom he must answer, and a newspaper to sell. And nothing sells as much as sensationalism, as recent headlines testify.

    Glen Cunningham’s vicious remarks concerning another
    Chamber of Commerce member make him temperamentally
    unsuitable to represent the chamber businesses at large.

    His brand of “leadership” is to divide by sowing fear and mistrust, not by reaching out with an open hand of tolerance and
    understanding as befits a true leader, certainly not where his former employer, JZ Knight, or RSE and its students is concerned.

    Perhaps he feels that this public disavowal of his 11 years with Ramtha is the stepping stone for his next political ambition.
    What office could he possibly hold while exhibiting such hatred and spewing such embittered gall?

    With respect to these recent headlines, exception is taken to
    Mr. Graves’ recent editorial: “Debate is good; threats aren’t”
    wherein he objects to “threats” allegedly made by James Flick and/or Steve Klein.

    “Threats are illogical, and payment is usually costly” so said a wise and skilled diplomat on human affairs.

    Perhaps the readers of the NVN would be better served by some real investigative reporting showing the factual side of the story, wherein a Washington superior court judge ruled 15 years ago that RSE is not a “cult” but a school”,
    as one of your readers graciously pointed out in her recent letter.

    How about a story covering the plethora of scientists from so many different fields who came 10 years ago to test JZ Knight
    and found that she “is not a fraud” as your reader from Australia pointed out in her letter last week.

    So if you’re going to cover stories from 17 or 18 years ago of an immature, angst-ridden man who was allegedly fired
    because he abused the power of his position, then the topics suggested/requested for coverage are downright current events by comparison.

    How about promoting some of the decent, kind human
    beings who not only attend RSE’s classes, but who live here, have businesses here, and contribute their talents and love to the future of this exceptionally beautiful place and all of its diverse community?

    Come on, NVN! Change is not that difficult. And you might be very pleased to discover a vast, untapped new subscription
    readership waiting in the wings all along.

    What say you, neighbor?

    Victoria

    Comment by Steve on October 9, 2008 at 4:52 am

  3. Shortly after Yelm became a city, an ordinance was
    passed making the Nisqually Valley News “the official newspaper of Yelm City Hall.” That little statement goes a long way in explaining why certain stories get special coverage in our “home town” paper, and certain
    stories do not, but do your readers know that?

    Thank you, I didn’t, but now I do. So the City can influence or control what it wants the public to know or not know. Freedom of speech AND censorship violations comes to mind.

    There are “power of superiors’ in Yelm, its very evident relating to those who have to work or answer to the Mayor. I often wonder if theyll be like the AIG executives and blame each other? Any superior, whatever position they are in, who misused their power for controlling, influencing , hiding or withholding information, is bias, dishonest, and/or has a conflict of interest and/or using his position of authority for personal issues, personal gain, obtain personal information not related to city government is wrong and against the interests of the public, and needs to investigated immediately. You know who you are. Its the duty of those who witness this of behavior to speaks out and report these actions to the appropriate outside higher authorities or that person is just as guilty by association and non-disclosure.

    The executive authority and power of the AIG is answering for their lack of accountability, personal gain and greed. They deserve to be in the spotlight, now sweating and fumbling about pointing fingers while investigated. A perfect example of lack of accountability, credibility, greed, personal interests and gain, thus affecting the many. Im hopeful this federal investigation put them all in prison, taking their millions in bonus money, million dollar salaries, plan partner and executive plan millions into a Foundation for those who have paid dearly for their executive positions and misuse of power.

    Has anyone else ever express interest in starting a new newspaper here in the Yelm area? I am not sure a newspaper such as the NVN can handle or is able to address the important issues in the world and the Yelm community. At the present time, we need to buy at least two papers. An outside paper in Olympia or Tacoma AND the NVN in order to get the town and local information. If the NVN is not going to advance forward or report in an unbiased fashion, another newspaper may be the answer. I certainly would subscribe to a paper that would have a broader view.

    Comment by Liz on October 9, 2008 at 8:48 am

  4. 2 points:

    1.A Roy Johnson wrote the NVN last week and said,
    “I don’t know about the rest of the population in our fine little village of Yelm, but if Knight/Ramtha devotees such as (former Yelm mayor candidate)
    Steve Klein and (legislative candidate) JeanMarie Christenson expect my support, they have a long wait coming.

    Am I really to believe that these politicians have the common sense and brains to lead our community when they got suckered into believing
    this Ramtha story is true?”

    So if people in the community think judgment and condemnation by association with Ramtha is inferred, then Cunningham’s views, interactions and associations with others cannot be overlooked
    as without influence, either. His views about RSE cannot be separated from his role as President-elect of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce.

    2. If Glen Cunningham IS the President-elect of the Yelm Chamber of commerce, then isn’t he condemning
    not only one of his patron member (RSE), yet also all of the RSE student businesses who are also Chamber members (like this blog)when he is quoted in the NVN saying, “..he warns people how it is so they dont waste their money” (meaning by going to RSE).

    You can’t have it both ways!

    Comment by Steve on October 9, 2008 at 2:39 pm

  5. This letter to the NVN Editor was not published:

    To the NVN Editor;

    Many of the Baby Boomers and their parents before them, grew up thinking that newspapers were unbiased, presenting journalistic investigation on both sides of the issues.

    For many of us, those rose colored glasses came off as big corporations gobbled up the media, subtly influencing and
    then controlling the presentation of news and facts to suit the beliefs of the owner(s) or stockholders so that the “truth” of any one topic has been altered to affect
    and/or sway the public sentiment or perception.

    The same can be said of the Nisqually Valley News, now under the direction of Lafromboise Communications, Inc.

    Current Yelm Councilman Don Miller spent 42 years as the editor and publisher of the Nisqually Valley News.

    Shortly after Yelm became a city, an ordinance was
    passed making the Nisqually Valley News “the official newspaper of Yelm City Hall.” That little statement goes a long way in explaining why certain stories get special coverage in our “home town” paper, and certain
    stories do not, but do your readers know that?

    In my limited encounters with Kevin Graves, Manager
    of the NVN, I have found him to be a most pleasant
    fellow, but he has superiors to whom he must answer, and a newspaper to sell. And nothing sells as much as sensationalism, as recent headlines testify.

    Glen Cunningham’s vicious remarks concerning another
    Chamber of Commerce member make him temperamentally
    unsuitable to represent the chamber businesses at large.

    His brand of “leadership” is to divide by sowing fear and mistrust, not by reaching out with an open hand of tolerance and
    understanding as befits a true leader, certainly not where his former employer, JZ Knight, or RSE and its students is concerned.

    Perhaps he feels that this public disavowal of his 11 years with Ramtha is the stepping stone for his next political ambition.
    What office could he possibly hold while exhibiting such hatred and spewing such embittered gall?

    With respect to these recent headlines, exception is taken to
    Mr. Graves’ recent editorial: “Debate is good; threats aren’t”
    wherein he objects to “threats” allegedly made by James Flick and/or Steve Klein.

    “Threats are illogical, and payment is usually costly” so said a wise and skilled diplomat on human affairs.

    Perhaps the readers of the NVN would be better served by some real investigative reporting showing the factual side of the story, wherein a Washington superior court judge ruled 15 years ago that RSE is not a “cult” but a school”,
    as one of your readers graciously pointed out in her recent letter.

    How about a story covering the plethora of scientists from so many different fields who came 10 years ago to test JZ Knight
    and found that she “is not a fraud” as your reader from Australia pointed out in her letter last week.

    So if you’re going to cover stories from 17 or 18 years ago of an immature, angst-ridden man who was allegedly fired
    because he abused the power of his position, then the topics suggested/requested for coverage are downright current events by comparison.

    How about promoting some of the decent, kind human
    beings who not only attend RSE’s classes, but who live here, have businesses here, and contribute their talents and love to the future of this exceptionally beautiful place and all of its diverse community?

    Come on, NVN! Change is not that difficult. And you might be very pleased to discover a vast, untapped new subscription
    readership waiting in the wings all along.

    What say you, neighbor?

    Victoria

    Comment by Steve on October 13, 2008 at 3:34 am

  6. [Ed. Note: This Letter was not published in the Oct. 10th NVN and is provided here by the author as a courtesy to the Yelm Community Blog.]

    To the NVN Editor;

    I am writing regarding your articles that have been front page for the last few weeks. Using words such as feud continues or officials lash out none of which were exactly factual I find that to be sensationalized journalism. As a newspaper, facts are supposed to be presented, not inflammatory opinions. JZ Knight and the Ramtha School of Enlightenment have been here a long time. JZ Knight has done nothing to harm this community in fact has contributed greatly.

    I question why you would even consider putting the whole Cunningham/McCarthy opinion on the front page. Besides the fact of it not being newsworthy or factual, why would something 17 years old be on the front page? The truth is RSE has been here for 20 years and no one has harmed this community. Again, they have contributed to it and continue to do so.

    I was specifically disheartened this last week by your comments, Mr. Graves. To insinuate that individuals are threatening businesses is a misnomer. No one is threatening anything. People are simply stating a fact, the fact being if there is that much prejudice and dislike for a certain segment of people, then please be honest. If you dont want us shopping and spending our money here because we happen to believe in something you dont believe or understand, no problem. Just let us know and we can go elsewhere.

    With all the alleged accusations against JZ Knight, why wasnt the headline Water systems demands dismissed at the top? Why not headline about the Yelm students accomplishments or what the residents at Rosemont or East Haven are doing? Why not list the sex offenders registered in Yelm? Something that might make a difference to the community.

    I think 20 years is long enough of bad-mouthing and finger- pointing and prejudicial treatment just because someone believes differently. This type of prejudice needs to stop now.

    Diane DAcuti
    Yelm

    Comment by Steve on October 14, 2008 at 4:03 am

  7. [Ed. Note: This Letter was not published in the Oct. 10th NVN and is provided here by the author as a courtesy to the Yelm Community Blog.]

    To the NVN Editor;

    Dear Editor,

    I personally appreciate the coverage that you gave to RSE in response to the article in which Glen Cunningham made inflammatory remarks about JZ Knignt and RSE. Publishing the community outrage was good & fair reporting. Although grateful for that, I must comment on your editorial “Debate is good, threats aren’t”. You absolutely have the right to your opinion, but I am sincerely asking if you might reconsider some of your statements and consider that some of these opinions, at least semantically, might be flawed? First of all, you state that Flick’s and Klein’s statements “smack of schoolyard bullying”. I must strongly disagree. Boycotting, or the discussion of possible boycotting, is not bullying. Boycotting is an age old, and very American form of passive resistance to everything from Government tyranny, to simple taste or preference. Heck, my Mom used to boycott a product if their TV commercial was particularly annoying. When people boycott, for example, a large box store-the people who boycott this store are not bullies- they are taking a passive stand against what they believe is wrong with the basic business (not spiritual) philosophies and actions of that company. My elderly neighbor works at a store like this and is a sweetheart of a man, and the reason that some people boycott his place of work is not his fault. But I have heard that as a result of these boycotts some positive changes have been made in the way that stores of this kind treat, and compensate their employees.

    As another example: I lived in the State of Arizona for over 20 years. In the late eighties Arizona Governor Evan Mecham became widely known for statements and actions that were perceived as insensitive to minorities (to put it mildly). One of these actions was that in 1987, Gov. Mecham rescinded Arizona’s Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. In reaction to this event and because of statements from Governor Mecham, a boycott of Arizona was organized NATION WIDE. At the time I was a working waitress going to school and I can tell you that the damage to the Arizona’s tourism industry, and the cancellation of multiple conventions really hurt me and my co-workers. My income was cut in half or more. Myself, my co-workers, and countless other tourism industry workers across Arizona were angry yes, but not at the other States boycotting us. No, we were angry with Governor Mecham. We were ashamed of him and his actions. He was our State leader. He represented us. We elected him and in that we held some responsibility. Mr. Cunningham is the President Pro Tem of our Yelm City Chamber of Commerce. Don’t the local business owners hold some responsibility for their chosen leaders, especially- and I will say that again-especially in regard to public statements he makes specifically about another local business? I would feel this same way if Mr. Cunningham’s remarks had been about a Christian business. Therefore your statement about using “the weight of RSE to threaten the livelihoods of innocent business owners” does not seem accurate to me. Business owners hold power of their own and the Chamber of Commerce members have the right to choose, or un-choose, their leaders and representatives. None of us are “innocent” if we don’t speak out against prejudice. History should have taught us that by now.

    I proudly work at RSE. Unfortunately, Mr. Cunningham’s outright call to “not waste your money” threatens my livelihood. Whether or not he “particularly” wanted to see an article about his statements in the local paper, makes no difference. He made the statements and should take responsibility for them. It was completely fair for RSE to ask if other businesses in our community felt the same way as Mr. Cunningham. How is RSE or its’ students to know? It seems entirely plausible that other business owners might agree with Mr. Cunningham, considering his position in the community. It seems understandable that RSE students might not want to shop at businesses that feel as Mr. Cunningham does. You are right that Steve Klein has always promoted that people should shop locally, without prejudice, and I know it has brought profitable results for our town and local business owners. Steve Klein’s efforts (and results) are obviously not appreciated by the chosen leader of our business community. This is exactly why Mr. Cunningham’s statements were so very offensive and disturbing. To put it simply, it felt like a knife in the back. So I would ask, who’s the real bully here?

    Elaine Boothby-Ptolemy
    Yelm, WA

    Comment by Steve on October 14, 2008 at 4:18 am

  8. Another unpublished NVN Letter to the Editor also submitted to the Yelm Community Blog:

    To the Editor of The Nisqually Valley News in reference to recent front page
    article of the September 26, 2008 edition: “One-time insider tells RSE
    experience”.

    For more then 20 years my husband and I have attended events regularly at
    Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment. We were both present during Glen
    Cunningham’s brief tenure with RSE and have never witnessed any of the
    inconsistencies or fakery that Mr. Cunningham so insidiously refers to. We
    have observed thousands of people come to the school in Yelm and attend RSE
    events around the world and have never once seen even a hint of what Mr.
    Cunningham so cruelly refers to as “1,200 people who would drink the Kool
    Aid.” My husband is a Professional Engineer with a Masters Degree from
    Cornell University and is a partner with an Engineering Firm based in
    Spanaway. He is a past president of the Tacoma-Olympia Section of the
    American Society of Civil Engineers. As a professional in the business
    community who openly tells colleagues he is a member of RSE we find
    Mr.Cunningham’s remarks deeply insulting. Such a monstrous act we have NEVER
    heard suggested in any fashion by Ramtha or JZ Knight, two completely
    different and distinct entities, and have only found life to be celebrated
    and encouraged at all of the many events we have ever been a part of at RSE.

    Both of us were present in an audience attended by hundreds of students who
    witnessed JZ Knight wired to computers and tested by scientists as she
    channeled Ramtha. The results proved beyond a doubt that she could not be
    faking it.

    In the many years I have interacted with JZ Knight both as a student and
    during the past 7 as her employee and with Ramtha with the past 3 years as
    an appointed RSE teacher, I have never witnessed Ramtha lose character in
    any situation and I have had the opportunity to be in close proximity with
    him at events throughout the world. In a case taken to the highest court in
    Austria that was won by JZ Knight, I did witness and provide declaration
    against former Ramtha imposter Julie Ravel, who under my direct challenge
    clearly wavered and dropped all character when pretending to channel Ramtha.

    For 20 years my husband and my involvement with RSE has only elevated our
    lives in every possible way with both of us having experienced many personal
    miracles through the direct application of Ramtha’s teachings. If we had
    found any of the suggestions and comments purported by Mr. Cunningham to be
    true we would never have remained students of RSE and would long ago have
    left this great and unique school.

    Michelle Horkings-Brigham

    Michelle Horkings
    Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment
    World Tour Coordination
    <mailto:mhorkings@ramtha.com> mhorkings@ramtha.com
    Tel: 360 458 5201 ext. 29
    Fax: 360 458 2183
    Home Phone: 360 894 0965

    Comment by Steve on October 21, 2008 at 12:12 am

  9. I must apologize to NVN for a comment I made on the Yelm community blog on Oct. 27th. When discussing a letter that I sent to them, I stated; “That’s probably why they didn’t publish it.” It appears they didn’t receive it. I recently found my letter returned because the Yelmonline address that I sent it to had a full mailbox.

    Comment by Elaine Boothby on October 28, 2008 at 4:00 pm

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