Sunday, February 8, 2009

Binghamton University / WHRW / Free Speech violations

To: The FIRE
From: Bill Huston
Subject: More Free Speech violations at Binghamton University


I have been following the advocacy you have been doing
for Andre Massena, and I think it's great. You are helping
to bring national attention to a very important story
which is being completely ignored by the local media.

I have an issue I would like to bring to your attention.
Perhaps there is something you can do to help my case.

I am not a student of SUNY Binghamton (aka Binghamton University),
however my case does relate to First Amendment rights on campus.

Here are the facts:
  • WHRW 90.5 FM is our local campus/community radio station,
    whose license is held by the SUNY Board of Regents.

  • I have been a community producer there for the last 6 years.

  • In Sept 08, I was informed I would need to take the
    annual clearance examination.

  • This in itself is odd, since after passing the test successfully for 6
    years, one qualifies for an exemption from taking all future tests.

  • I took the test, however the General Manager flunked me.

  • NOTE: there is no grade, there is no objective standard.
    The determination of who passes and who fails is completely
    subjective and arbitrary, at the discretion of the GM, Mike Saltzman.

  • I happen to be a subject-matter expert in FCC rules, and am
    a published author in the area of questions which I allegedly
    failed (obscenity law).

  • One question which was marked incorrect (about "calls to
    action") is clearly correct according to FCC rules, and the
    Official WHRW Guidebook.

  • These same answers have been marked correct for the last
    6 years I have taken the test.

  • I was told I could "retake the test" (takes 3 hours), but what
    are my chances of passing when my first answers were correct,
    and the same people will be grading the test?

  • I have tried to get mediation help from the University Ombudsman,
    Francine Montemurro, however she refuses to help me, and
    won't return my calls.

    EVEN MORE STRANGE! I went to campus to track her down
    and try to find out why she is ignoring my calls , and why
    she won't help me.

    I took my video camera along and my friend as a witness.
    He's a retired professor of economics, is 70 years old, and
    has Parkinson's).

    We met her walking across campus, and while she was
    cordial, she said she would have no office time for me,
    and walked away.

    The next day I received an email telling me if I tried
    to contact her again, I would be arrested for harassment!!!
    (for asking a public officer to perform her official duties
    on my behalf!!!!)

  • I produced a short TV show about this:

  • There have been dozens of people in the local community
    who have appreciated the programs I have produced over the
    years who have written letters to the President (Lois Defleur)
    on my behalf, complaining about my treatment.
    These all have been ignored.

  • I believe the GM has some personal grievance against me,
    and/or this has to do with my political views.

  • In 2007, I did a show about a local citizens group which organized
    to try to prevent a new Walmart from coming to town.

    I mentioned on the air "If you care about this issue, be sure to get out to
    the public hearing tonight at the JC Town Hall".

    After this, station management informed me that I had made an
    "illegal call to action".  Well, I looked up the FCC rules, and
    there is no such rule.

    But this is the kind of harassment I have faced in the past
    over exercising my free speech rights on the airwaves.

  • After being denied access last semester, I decided to try
    to get a "public affairs" show this semester, which anyone can get,
    regardless of whether one holds a WHRW clearance or not.

    I was told I would be denied a show, because I "refused to
    follow the rules". This is a complete falsehood!!!

    In fact, I said I would follow all rules which are
    a) consistent with FCC rules and the US Constitution, and
    b) which all other station members and WHRW producers
    are required to agree to.

    Note: Mike Saltzman and the present administration have in
    the past have tried to created special rules which are
    a) gross violations of First Amendment rights inconsistent with FCC rules, and
    b) special rules which attempt to target a single person.
So here's the thing:

Binghamton University is a PUBLIC UNIVERSITY
chartered by the State of NY to serve the public interest.

The various assets of the campus, the libraries,
computing resources, the radio station, etc. are
all legally part of THE COMMONS, which all
citizens have a right of access to.

All of the staff and faculty there are PUBLIC OFFICERS
with a duty to serve ALL the public, not just the
paying students.

I am being denied my free speech rights, due process,
and equal protection of the law. These rights are guaranteed
to me under the United States and the NY Constitutions.

Any publicity you can give this matter would be greatly

Kindest Regards,
Bill Huston

Bill Huston
Binghamton NY
607-321-7846 c

email:  WilliamAHuston at gmail

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