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Dragon Slayers?

With Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald poised to announce indictments in the CIA leak case that leads all the way back to the White House, it once again seems sublimely symmetrical that local resident Paul Sanford is poised to bring a law suit against KSCO's Michael Zwerling and Zwerling Broadcasting Systems Ltd. in a case that also leads to the White House--and raises a ton of tricky questions, including treason and fraud.

Readers may recall (Nüz, Sept. 21) that Sanford is the constitutional lawyer who quit his job earlier this year to become the first member of the White House press corps to ask whether the CIA leak was tantamount to treason--a question he popped to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan on July 25.

Initially, it seemed as if it was Sanford's T-bomb that got the staunchly Republican Zwerling's goat, since shortly afterward, the KSCO station owner called the White House to say that Sanford was "nothing more than a potential advertiser" and that if he'd used the call letters of KSCO's sister station and Air America affiliate KOMY-AM (1340) to get access to the White House press corps, then "that's fraudulent."

Interestingly, Exhibit "A" in Sanford's lawsuit is a July 12 letter from KOMY radio that acknowledges receipt of $10,000 from Sanford ... and agrees to sell to "Advertiser" specific broadcast times on KOMY totaling 15 hours per week in August 2005. Exhibit "A" also shows this contract to be "non-assignable, non-transferable, and non-cancelable"--terms that are doubtless of interest to Sanford's lawyer since, on July 28, Zwerling Broadcasting Systems wrote to Sanford announcing that it was ending the agreement and would not let Sanford perform as entitled.

Sanford's suit also claims that on July 8, Sanford and Zwerling's agent, Rosemary Chalmers, entered into an oral agreement in which Zwerling Broadcasting Systems agreed to provide Sanford with KOMY news credentials that would allow him to act as their agent for the limited purpose of establishing a KOMY news department--and to identify Sanford as a credentialed news reporter, as Sanford was starting his own radio network.

Sanford says he spent the next few weeks entering into binding contracts and quitting two jobs in preparation for performing his obligations under the contract, only to learn on July 28 that Zwerling Broadcasting Systems wasn't going to allow him to perform--and had made this decision sometime prior, but had withheld the information from Sanford. All of which leads Sanford to accuse Zwerling and his company of fraud. Or as his lawsuit puts it, "The facts were that the defendants never intended to allow Sanford to perform as allowed under the written contract, but entered into the contract with the intent of riding Sanford's coattails, in gaining national media attention for KOMY radio, a newly formatted liberal radio station--and then locking out Sanford."

Sanford's suit also accuses Zwerling and his company of slander after the liberal radio network Air America contacted him at KOMY to check out a White House blogger's errant report that Sanford was with Air America. Zwerling not only told Air America that he didn't have a contractual relationship with Sanford, but he reportedly repeated that allegation to the White House, along with the statement that Sanford had misrepresented himself to obtain White House Press credentials.

As Sanford's suit claims, "These words were understood by those who saw and heard them in a way that defamed plaintiff because Sanford's White House press credentials were voided and Sanford was no longer welcome at the White House. Instead of returning to Santa Cruz County and KOMY to acclaim and increased professional stature, Sanford has experienced negative and hostile public feedback."

While Metro Santa Cruz is not a defendant in the suit, the paper is named for having printed the report in Nüz, including Zwerling's alleged slanderous comments.

Says Sanford's lawyer, Shawn 'Dr. Bubbles' Mills of the case, "Clearly, Paul was wronged. In our society, we let civilized people handle things like this, which is what this suit seeks to do."

Safety Dance

For drunk and disorderly folk, the police officer "costume" might turn out to be the scariest one of all this Halloween.

"Our intent is to be very high-profile, have a lot of presence downtown, make the alcohol arrests early on and keep things under control," says Santa Cruz Police Department Chief HOWARD SKERRY.

Even though Halloween is not an official event in the way that, say, FIRST NIGHT SANTA CRUZ was, the City Council has nevertheless decided to close the streets downtown this year--something it's never actually done in the past. The pedestrians usually shut things down on their own, the problem being that they don't leave any avenues open for emergency vehicles--police, fire department, ambulance--to handle any problems that might arise during Halloween.

At a recent City Council meeting, Skerry described the plan to set up three "safety zones" on side streets that will be fenced off to allow for emergency vehicular access. And no, that doesn't include the "emergency" situation in which you forgot to move your car before hordes of people blocked it in. The chief made if very clear that parking is not allowed on Pacific Avenue after noon and on the side streets after 6pm--any cars left on the streets will either be towed or left to the mercy of the crowd. He also made it clear they're out to get the drunks.

Day of the Dead

What better time than Halloween season to go out and rent THE SIXTH SENSE, pretend like you've never seen it and then amaze all your friends with your astounding powers of observation as you discern, within the first 15 minutes, that BRUCE WILLIS is actually a ghost?

Alternatively, you could head down to the MUSEUM OF ART & HISTORY's DIA DE LOS MUERTOS celebration which opened on Oct. 25. Presented by MAH and UCSC's CHICANO LATINO RESOURCE CENTER, the exhibit features as its centerpiece a large community altar created in part by Santa Cruz area elementary school children and Cabrillo College sculpture students, but it's steadily growing larger, as anyone is welcome to contribute remembrances of loved ones who have passed on. The festival culminates with the free family festival on Oct. 29, 11am-3pm, when families are invited to make masks, paper flowers and other traditional crafts. Ghosts may not actually appear, but the altar is always well worth at least a voyeuristic visit to this annual event. Whereas Halloween often focuses on fear, Dia De Los Muertos encourages a range of emotional responses to death that Nüz can only describe as, well, healthy.

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From the October 26-November 2, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

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