Two weeks ago, in the clammy halls of Oregon State Penitentiary, two inmates faced each other and sparred for the last time. For the past 22 years, as part of a program to teach discipline and provide an outlet for frustration, Oregon inmates had an opportunity to learn to box.
But last year, as one of her final acts, former penitentiary superintendent Joan Palmateer gave the KO to the program. Even though several prominent boxers (such as Michael Bennett, the captain for the 2000 U.S. Olympic team) learned to box while in prison, Palmateer claimed that these programs fail to rehabilitate inmates.
Two matches and a small ceremony were held to commemorate the end of the program. There are no plans to replace the program. PHIL BUSSE
Sunken Pirate Radio
Last January, against the protests of NPR and several mega-communication corporations, the FCC narrowly passed a provision that allows the creation and operation of low-powered FM radio stations (LPFM). The provision enables local, non-profits to operate 100-watt stations, enough power to cast a signal four miles.
Under the current guidelines, non-profits around the area will have a narrow window of opportunity to apply for these permits--between June 11 and 15. If granted one, the groups have 18 months to organize, coordinate, and go live on the air.
While LPFMs have the potential to allow non-corporate groups to grab back some of the airwaves, experts point out that they will more likely be a false prophet than a gift from the radio gods.
"There are no channels available in Portland under the current rules," notes Michael Brown, an engineering consultant. In the waning days of Congress' last session (after the FCC announced its plans for LPFMs) the Radio Preservation Act was passed. Prompted by mounting pressure from commercial FM stations, Congress agreed to place more empty space between stations on the dial. This new rule severely restricts the availability for potential LPFMs.
"It's a fundamental right of the people to have control of the airwaves," says Andrea Cano of the Microradio Implementation Project, "and we have let it get away from us." JOSH WOODARD