Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dumb publisher has dumb friends

For those readers who think they can just make copies of my blog willy-nilly and circulate them at their own free will around the Grant County Courthouse, I’d like to introduce you to a little well-known concept called copyright law. That link will tell you that you should have asked my permission before you decided to self-publish my work. This link will tell you that what you thought you knew about material on the Internet being fair game ... is completely wrong, much like your use of the county courthouse as your personal forum is completely wrong.


Did you make those copies at home, or did taxpayer dollars pay for them? Just curious, because the wording at the top indicates they were faxed from the Grant County Treasurer's Office at 4:45 p.m. - after hours ... on election night. Interesting.

I had made the following post the day before yesterday, but I took it down when I got up this morning, about 6:15 a.m., for reasons I will explain in a second. About four hours later, I received a call from someone who had received a paper copy of it. I learned later that many, many people had received copies of it. I don't remember ever giving anyone permission to make even a single copy of it, much less distribute it. If people want to read my post, they can visit my blog. If I want to publish my work and circulate it, I will. If you want to publish my work and circulate it, then I'd appreciate a phone call. If you want to publish my work and circulate it using county dollars, my attorney will be in touch with the district attorney.

I took the post down not because I don’t stand behind it but because of one person involved, and that is the treasurer’s deputy. I wholeheartedly apologize to her and her family for the comments made.

I am fed up with the bickering. I am sick of adults acting like third-graders. I cannot fathom how grown people can hold on to grudges for such a long period of time. Even the Tiger Woods “scandal” didn’t last this long, and when it was all said and done, there really was no scandal after all.

I’ve written about several reasons why I closed the paper, but I’ve never written about the fact that I got to the point that I wanted to vomit every Monday morning when I had to sit in that commission meeting. Now, I’m right back in there, and that old feeling is starting to creep in again.

Maybe I’m just over-the-top when it comes to public meetings and public funds, but I don’t appreciate the disrespect that goes on in there. I’ve seen eyes rolling, snickering, note passing, and I’m not talking about the board members. I’m talking about the audience members, some of whom are being paid by county dollars. To be honest, in all the meetings I’ve ever covered in any county, I have never witnessed behavior like what goes on in Grant County commission meetings.

I just want some of our public officials to grow up! And I guess that’s one reason I took down my blog this morning. I felt like I had stooped to their level by even owning up to the fact that this crap gets to me. But you know what, I’m human. It gets to me. I hate it. I loathe it. I’m not thick-skinned enough for it, and I’m not embarrassed to say it.

So, since copies have already been made of it – after a whopping sum of 61 people visited my entire blog the day I published it – I guess I’ll just keep it on here. I said it. I felt it. I still feel it, but now, I’m admitting it – permanently, publicly, in print.

That does not mean, however, that anyone can copy it and distribute it how they see fit. If you want people to read it, here it is. Send them a link.

Copyright 2010 Korina L. Schneider



HOW MANY IDIOT PUBLISHERS DOES IT TAKE TO CREATE A LIBEL STATEMENT? JUST ONE AND HE, UNFORTUNATELY, WORKS IN GRANT COUNTY

This morning, I said hello to a woman who generally is very friendly toward me. She snarled at me, making eye contact, and walked right on past. I have no doubt she heard me say hello and intended for me to see her dirty look. It was quite obvious.

I have received a few of these looks from several people lately. I’ve also heard reports of inaccurate information being printed, so I’m assuming – like I know I shouldn’t – that some people are upset because they have been duped unwittingly into believing lies that have been printed about me.

I used to hate the expression, “You can’t believe everything you read in the papers” because I was educated by ethical journalists who prided themselves on informing the public accurately, truthfully and honestly, with integrity – even when they might not have agreed with the agenda.

That’s the way respectable journalism works. Too bad it no longer exists in Grant County.

During the past few weeks, it has been reported in our local rag that I would be paid anywhere from $10,400 to $20,000 for creating a Web site for the county. It has been implied that I asked for this job. Neither lies are true.

The facts regarding the Web site were presented during open meeting more than once with the publisher of the paper present – or at least his tape recorder was present. Still, the truth has been wrongly reported in the Weekly Wipe.

The publisher knows the truth yet has failed – or maybe just refused? – to correct letters to the editor which gave completely false information. That’s called libel – even when someone else writes it. It is the editor and/or publisher’s job to correct wrong information or delete it altogether. That’s one of the first rules we learned in journalism school. I guess he didn’t attend.

The truth that should have been printed is that I will charge $20 an hour to build the Web site, which I anticipate to take around 75 to 80 hours. I am limited to less than 10 hours a week to work on the Web site and to work for the county. You do the math, and then try to find an individual who will build a 45-page Web site (so far), sit through county meetings at least once a week and make necessary updates to keep the county legal cheaper than that.

I did my research. I know what Web builders charge, and it’s a far cry more than what I am charging. I won’t work for free, but I have no intentions of gouging the county, either. Those are my tax dollars the commissioners are spending.

Those who know me know that I have been an advocate for honest and efficient government for as long as I can remember. My dad served almost 30 years as a public employee and fireman.

I have served as a city/county government reporter for nearly 13 years. I do not and will not ever take advantage of tax dollars.

Because I have covered so many public meetings, I know my way around the courthouse and the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act, which the county is bound by law to follow. A government Web site is different and more in-depth (or at least should be more in-depth) than an average business or individual Web site, and I already possessed the knowledge to create a Web site that includes all the public information that should be on a county Web site. So yes, that is another reason it made sense for the commissioners to ask me to design a Web site.

And forgive me for saying, but I spent many years acquiring this knowledge and information. After four years of college and 13 years of studying open meetings first-hand, I don’t feel like $20 an hour is too much to ask. Few people besides journalists and attorneys know much about the Open Meeting Act, and I bet you can make a rough guess as to how much attorneys charge to share that information. 

For the woman who wrote the letter proclaiming that she would have built the Web site for free on her own time, I have three words – “YOU DID NOT!”

She made a presentation to the commissioners at the same time I did – with the publisher of the paper present – stating the treasurer had given her permission to work on the Web site on county time – while she was working in the treasurer’s office. Last I checked, she doesn’t work for free. She also took the liberty of asking the commissioners’ assistant to take over the Web site once she had it built. That was a pretty ballsy move considering the commissioners’ assistant works for the commissioners – not the treasurer’s deputy.

That would sort of be like me volunteering to build a Web site for the city, charging the city for it and then requesting – over the city manager’s head – the city clerk to take it over once I have it up and running. Would you have the nerve to do this?

For one, the city clerk more than likely wouldn’t know how to maintain a Web site (not saying she couldn’t learn, but again, that would be at the city’s expense), and for another, the city clerk wouldn’t have TIME to do so!

Again, the publisher of the local paper attended that meeting. He heard this woman’s presentation but still printed a letter to the editor from the same woman who stated the exact opposite of what she told everyone in the meeting. She said in her letter to the editor that she told the commissioners she would build the Web site for free, after hours, on her own time. She said no such thing!

This matter was later publicly addressed in a county meeting at which the publisher was present, but these points didn’t get printed in the paper – not even as “clarifications.” This, too, is called libel. He knows the truth but is choosing to ignore it.

The woman who wrote the letter and made the presentation is forgiven in my book. She is part of my Christian family, and I already regret making some of the harsh statements above.

Low-life publishers, however, who are an embarrassment to community journalism will get absolutely no respect from me. Zilch. Forgiveness is a whole different bird than respect, and we can talk about that later.

For now, I’d like to talk about the last comment I read regarding the most atrocious statement printed yet in that sorry excuse for toilet paper. The letter stated that the county had signed a year-long contract with The North Central Reporter to print county legal notices, and the writer wanted to know if I had paid the money back!

This is the one that really sticks in my crawl. If anyone knows how county legal notices work, it is the publisher of the Medford Manure Spreader.

He was so upset about not receiving money for the county’s legal notices that he threw a big baby fit last summer when the commissioners chose to print legals in The NCR.

He knows for a fact that legal notices are not paid in advance. There is no way possible to pay for them in advance: no one can guess how long they will be or how much they will cost! Yet, he published a letter to the editor claiming I received county money for an entire year of legal notices, when I wasn’t even in business six months of that year. I’m getting good at spelling the word L-I-B-E-L!

Let me make this one crystal clear: I RECEIVED NO MONEY FROM THE COUNTY FOR PUBLISHING LEGAL NOTICES THAT NEVER PRINTED.

It’s one thing to bash elected officials or even newspaper competitors, but I am neither anymore. I am a private contractor who was washing dishes one day in the comfort of my own home when I was asked to make a presentation about designing a Web site for the county.

It took me several days to accept, and I almost turned it down simply because I knew the idiot who never takes notes, is late to every meeting – when he decides to show up – and publicly professes that he counts ceiling tiles while public business he supposedly is covering takes place would run me through his self-constructed mill. I had hoped his heart had softened a bit, but I was not that lucky.

Unfortunately, it is the people who read his crap that suffer the most. They get a false impression of good people.

I have only picked up his so-called publications about five times in the six years I have lived in Grant County. The last time I read his ridiculous column – riddled with grammatical errors, incomplete sentences and false accusations – he printed the statement, “I never claimed to be a writer.” Well, I should hope not!

I cringe at the thought that he would ever claim to be anything respectable, because he is not.

I’ve noticed one place that has stopped allowing him to sell his trash in their store. I hope others follow suit. I hope readers stop dropping quarters in his worn-out cottage cheese containers and spending good money to sort through his crazy maze of what he calls layout and design. My 7-year-old daughter has produced illustrated notes more coherent than that.

More than that, I hope he wakes up and realizes what an imbecile he is and that his actions not only affect the individuals he is out to get but also their families and friends.

It also affects how people – including outsiders – view our county when they get wind of his lies. I guess since he is from Kansas, he doesn’t care how others view our county. But I do, and if you’re from Grant County, you should, too.

I hope you will unite to put an end to his tyranny over Grant County. He won’t operate in the red. He’s too greedy for that.

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