No impropriety on my part in the California land deal

News was made last week when a Riverside County grand jury issued a report proving that there was no impropriety on my part in a sale of land by the Jurupa Community Services District (JCSD) to myself and two partners.

News was made up when Ms. Crabtree chose to create new “facts,” misrepresent others and create controversies where there are none in her July 11 story.

The tone was set with an obtuse and leading headline, “Illegal Calif. land sale does not deter Calvert, for now” (deter me from what — and for how long?), and followed with:

Assertion: “Calvert’s role in the land deal has raised questions about whether federal money that he helped obtain for a desalination project for JCSD in a 2005 bill influenced its decision to sell the parcel to him and his partners without notifying others that the land was for sale.”

Rebuttal: The authorization bill referenced, H.R. 177, never became law and therefore no federal funds were “obtained.”

Only one project contained in the bill was related to the JCSD — the Lower Chino Dairy Area Desalination Demonstration and Reclamation Project. The JCSD would have been only one of 21 water agencies to benefit.

Any “questions of influence” exist only in Ms. Crabtree’s vivid imagination. The grand jury, which had authority to investigate any impropriety, never raised this as an issue — for the very good reason that it was not an issue. Most unprofessionally, she never asked me about H.R. 177 in her many communications with my office.

Assertion: “Local media reports have raised questions about the proximity of several of Calvert’s real estate deals to earmarks he attained.”

Rebuttal: “And some dismissed them” is what Ms. Crabtree should have added. While the Los Angeles Times published an article on May 15, 2006 alleging a connection between a sale of property located 16 miles away from a transportation project that received federal funding, The Press Enterprise, the sixth-largest newspaper in California, printed an editorial titled “False Alarm” that characterized the matter as “trumping up flimsy charges.”

Additionally, she calls the JCSD a “company” when it is a government agency and confuses the issue of the park district’s area of operation with ownership. Ms. Crabtree should report news, not make it up. In an age where everything printed by a respectable newspaper is virally replicated across the Internet, getting the story right the first time is critical. How many facts can a reporter get wrong before she is called to account?

~From Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Washington

Copyright ruling destroys webcasters

Seventy-seven million Americans listened to Internet radio. But as of July 15 that has changed. The three-member Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) imposed an Internet-only music royalty fee structure that is forcing webcasting firms to shut down.

Hundreds of thousands of Internet radio listeners, online radio broadcasters, and musicians have united to request that webcasters be allowed to pay musicians a percentage of stations’ revenue instead of the per-song fee the CRB imposed. That way the amount of royalties paid would never total more than a station’s profit, but would grow when that station’s audience, and thus its advertising rates, increased. Musicians would get paid a fair fee, webcasters would be in business to air their music, and Internet radio listeners would hear (and ultimately purchase) that music.

That is the approach the bipartisan S. 1353 and H.R. 2060 (124 cosponsors) take. Paying a percentage will ensure that Internet radio — and the musicians played on it — are allowed to thrive. Further, Congress should prevent three-member panels like the CRB from micro-managing emerging technologies and let the market and American ingenuity guide the future of radio.

~From Reed Bunzel. president and CEO, American Media Services, Internet division, Charleston, S.C.