Online Edition: October 2006     Vol. XIX, No. 2

sponsored by Peace Life Center, Public invited

  • MODESTO PEACE LIFE CENTER VIGILS: Vigils are held once a month; Friday evenings; call the Center for info: 529-5750.

  • PEACE LIFE CENTER WILL BE OPEN TUESDAYS, Noon to 3 pm. Come by for coffee or tea and just to chat or look at our book and magazine collection. Bring your own bag lunch; there may be films some days. 720 13th St. Call us 529-5750, we'll get back to you with info on vigils and other activities.

  • Click here for other Peace Actions around the Valley and Mother Lode

The 2007 Peace Essay Contest is starting--download the Flyer and read or print by clicking here


San Joaquin Connections--Our Sister Publication to the North--August Issue (pdf)

Peace & Justice

Around the Center: 


Living Lightly

Recipes from Connections

A Gathering of Voices--Stella Beratlis

Out and About


Masthead and Back Issues

Opinion and Letters to Connections

Connections Fundraiser a success, sort of…

Our September 9th Fundraiser and Auction was a success, sort of. While poorly attended compared to our previous efforts, the 30 to 40 who were there had a great time and spiritedly bid on a variety of interesting items. And the food and conversation was outstanding. We raised $1893.00.

A big THANK YOU to all of you who donated auction items and to those who broke out their wallets and purses for a good cause. Thanks also to John Lucas who jumped into the breech at the last moment to auctioneer, and to Mike Lenahan who made the best signs we have ever had.

Finally, a special thanks to Tom and Alfa Broderick who allowed us to use their lovely country home on the Tuolumne.

COMMUNITY SERVICE: a highlight for scholarship winner


(Excerpts from a response by the author, a graduate of Carlmont High School, Belmont, California, explaining the importance of community service in her life)

The bulk of my community service has been centered on working with younger kids at several local schools. I’ve been a tutor in the Healthy Cities Tutoring Program for five years, working one-on-one with students who need extra support. I’ve also helped create and maintain an organic school garden at a local school for students who have learning differences. At both places, and in both my roles as tutor and fellow gardener, it’s been rewarding being a part of these student’s experiences of success whether through encouraging them to pursue a passion they have, or helping them plant seeds in the garden and see their excitement when they actually bloom or sprout or become edible.

Many of the kids I’ve worked with have difficulty in other areas of their lives that sometimes interferes with their ability to do well in school and with peers, which may have in turn, limited their feelings of success. I believe success can be experienced and measured in many different ways. My community service in the school garden and through tutoring has also been very much about being a mentor and role model for all the kids I’ve worked with - being the help or encouragement they haven’t received elsewhere.

Thinking about it, I realized that giving back to the community to me means pro-actively creating a place that I want to be a part of. It means working collaboratively with other people to achieve a common goal. To me it means creating a place where all kids have access to the resources they need in order to have their own experiences of success. It means creating a garden where students, teachers, parents and neighbors can work together to build a sort of “sacred space” for all to enjoy and contribute to.

I am off to U.C. Berkeley this fall, and I’m looking forward to taking classes that relate to social welfare and diversity issues.

Lillian Vallee receives Excellence in Education award



This last August, Dr. Lillian Vallee, the author of Stanislaus Connections’ monthly column, “River of Birds” was awarded Modesto Junior College’s highest teaching honor, the Purdy Award for Excellence in Education.

Lillian is a true scholar in the classical sense. She speaks Polish and Russian as well as superb English; reads French and German; translates the Nobel Prize winning poetry of Czeslaw Milosz; is an environmentalist who exudes inspiring environmental prose and poetry but also acts out her environmental concerns through local actions such as Tuolumne River tree planting and working with school children on environmental issues; is executor of the literary estate of Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel’s poetry, the “biscuits and gravy Poet” of California’s south Central Valley; is a prolific writer for MJC Great Valley Museum’s Valley Habitat, Stanislaus Connections, and local poetry venues.

Dr. Vallee has published Two-Hearted Oak, a collection of striking black and white photos of Valley scenes created by her husband, Roman Loranc, where she introduces and interprets the scenes with her lyrical prose and stirring poetry.

She has submitted her doctoral dissertation on Czeslaw Milosz to Yale University which may publish it as Bear With a Cross, and is currently working on a novel, Crane Season.

Lillian stars as a collaborative member of MJC’s faculty — she worked with many others in creating “The Other California”; she initiated and executed a three-program series on “Singing Back the San Joaquin” Spring 2006 through the Environmental Issues Committee of MJC’s Civic Engagement Project. In January, 2006 she presented two Kick-Back Science Seminar sessions on “Salmon Forest” and “Cadillac Desert: The Mercy of Nature.”

Earlier in her life, she received a Fulbright Fellowship. More recently, she has been honored as Woman of Distinction by the American Association of Women in Community Colleges, MJC in 1997.

Dr. Vallee is an inspiring English and Critical Thinking teacher, as she brings her considerable life experience to bear on her teaching. She has inspired many students

Over the years Lillian has created or participated significantly in many programs important to campus life at MJC. She:

Lillian has represented MJC at some distant places due to her being a recognized authority on Milosz and Gombrowicz. In 1995 she presented her “Gombrowicz for Beginners,” in Polish, by invitation at the Second International Gombrowicz Festival in Radom, Poland; at Yale University, 2004, with her “Snapshots from Witold Gombrowicz’ Diary”; at the University of San Diego, 2005, with her “Bear with a Cross” for the 9th General Meeting of the International Thomas Merton Society.

Lillian has worked tirelessly with the staff of the San Luis Wildlife Refuge (Gary Zahm, Dennis Woolington, Eric Hopson) and especially its San Joaquin portion, involving MJC students.

In 2004 she organized (with Trudy Wischemann, Lindsay Rural Ministry Center) the “Celebration of Life and Poetry in Pixley” that featured Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel. The film about McDaniel that premiered that day also featured Lillian.

In 1996 Lillian helped create Highway 99: A Literary Journey Through California’s Great Central Valley a unique work part of the growing recognition of our Central Valley. It includes her poems “Hawk at the Delta Mendota Canal” and “Los Baños Reservoir.”

Lillian’s publications and speaking accomplishments include:

Lillian, working with numerous MJC student volunteers, has planted thousands of trees in the effort to reestablish trees in the Tree planting at Big Bend region of the Tuolumne River. I also found her with dirt up to her elbows planting natives with children and parents at Orville Wright School, Modesto.

[Edited by Jim Costello from Dr. Richard Anderson’s nomination essay.]

Note: The editorial committee of Stanislaus Connections offers its enthusiastic congratulations to Lillian Vallee!

The FCC’s media manipulation


Michael Powell’s tenure at the Federal Communications Commission was marked by his blatant disregard for the public. Despite overwhelming opposition to his plans to gut longstanding media ownership rules, Powell faithfully served the interest of the corporate media lobby.

Thus many of us weren’t the least surprised to learn this week that the Powell Commission buried at least two taxpayer-funded studies that didn’t toe the official line that bigger media is better for us all.

The first study, ( completed in 2004 by the FCC’s own researchers, found that on average locally owned broadcasters devoted 5.5 more minutes of local news per half-hour newscast than their consolidated counterparts. It concluded that network-owned and operated stations (belonging to the likes of Disney, General Electric, Viacom and News Corp) spent considerably less time covering the communities they’re supposed to serve.

Local ownership is good news for local communities, according to the study. But this was bad news for Powell. The findings openly challenged his assertions that “commonly owned television stations are more likely to carry local news than other stations.” Thus instructions came down from “senior managers” to destroy “every last piece” of the study.

The second study, ( which just came to light today, found that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 led to the drastic decline in the number of radio station owners while the actual number of commercial stations in the U.S. increased—a strong indicator that a handful of companies were hoarding local radio airwaves.

This study, too, was buried during Powell’s rocky tenure.

This evidence would still be gathering dust at the agency were it not for whistle-blowers who secreted copies of the spiked reports to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Last week, she waved the findings before a wide-eyed Kevin Martin, Powell’s successor as FCC chairman, during his Senate re-confirmation hearings. In a follow-up letter ( to Martin she asked whether it’s in the normal “practice of the FCC to suppress facts that are contrary to a desired outcome.”

This won’t help Chairman Martin.

The North Carolina Republican had been hand-picked by the Bush administration to clean up Powell’s failed turn at the FCC, successfully rewrite media ownership rules and let powerful network owners expand their control over local news markets. Martin previously worked on the Bush-Cheney 2000 election team that fought bitterly to obstruct the vote recount in Florida. Martin’s wife, Catherine, had been a top adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. He’s a shrewd political animal who many feel could parlay GOP successes at the FCC into higher office.

But Powell’s untidy FCC legacy may have stalled Martin’s ambitions.

Martin was caught unusually off-guard during the confirmation hearings when Senator Boxer ( demanded that he come clean on efforts to “deep six” the first study. Consumer groups and public advocates at Free Press, Consumers Union, Media Access Project and the Consumer Federation of America called on Martin to seek an immediate independent investigation “to determine the circumstances under which the public was denied access to this important, taxpayer-funded research.” An Associated Press report on the cover-up ran in more than two dozen newspapers and trade publications.

Late last night, [Sept. 18, 2006] the unfolding controversy prompted Martin to order an independent investigation into why the two studies on media ownership were never made public, yet he remains adamant with Powell in denying any knowledge of a cover-up.

The unfolding drama has been met with a flurry of denials from FCC chairmen present and past. Martin wrote back to Boxer repeating over and again that he knew nothing of the study: “I was not chairman at the time that this report was drafted. I had not seen—nor was I aware of—this draft report ... No one on my staff had seen this report nor were they aware of it. I am not aware of any other commissioners, past or present, who knew of the report.”

Powell echoed Martin, telling NPR on Friday that he “never saw” the study. “Any suggestion that senior levels of the commission spiked that report, at least from my vantage point, didn’t happen,” he said.

While Powell scrambles to distance himself from the cover-up—and Martin scrambles to distance himself from Powell—the “vantage point” for the public has become disappointingly clear.

We know now that the leadership of a federal agency is bent on deleting evidence that challenges their beliefs—placing political expediency before the public interest.

We know that this cover-up is part of a larger scheme to clear a path for large media companies to buy up more local news outlets.

And we know that unless the public gets more involved in holding them accountable, the FCC will fulfill the wishes of the administration and its corporate allies, gutting policies that curb media companies’ plans to swallow up local markets.

The good news is that now the public has a chance to have its say.

Major media companies have lobbied Martin to erase restrictions on how many newspapers, television and radio stations they can own. They want him to rewrite rules so that such big national companies as Tribune could potentially own the major daily newspaper, eight radio stations and three television stations in a single town.

Martin wants to help these companies do just that. But the chairman—as a matter of procedure—must first seek public comment to any proposed rewrite of the rules. Earlier this summer Martin kick-started the latest effort to weaken FCC protections to local control of the media. The chairman pledged to hold a “half dozen” public hearings but has so far only committed to one, in Los Angeles on October 3. He and the agency’s Republican majority are carrying forward Powell’s commitment to scrap any limits to local media monopolies, but they have to at least make a show of public accountability before handing over more local outlets.

More than 40 public and consumer advocacy groups, including Free Press, Common Cause, Consumers Union, National Council of Churches and the Newspapers Guild-CWA have formed the coalition to make sure that the FCC puts on more than a show.

We have encouraged more than a 100,000 American to make comments ( in the FCC public docket and hope to turn out thousands more at public hearing scheduled through the remainder of the year.

Before Chairman Martin decides we hope he will take a lesson from Powell’s tin ear to popular concerns about consolidation. If Martin really wants to overcome the unsavory legacy of the Powell Commission, he must weigh all the evidence and put the public’s needs first.

Timothy Karr is the campaign director of Free Press,, the national media reform organization, and coordinator of the Stop Big Media coalition,

Used according to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. is a project of Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund.


Tenth of each month. Submit peace, justice and environmentally friendly event notices to P.O. Box 134, Modesto, CA, 95353, or call 522-4967 or 575-4299, or email to Jim Costello. Free listings subject to space, availability and editing.