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UNC-TV documentary about Alcoa subpoenaed

A state Senate committee has subpoenaed a documentary about Alcoa from UNC-TV.

Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, a Concord Republican who runs the Judiciary Committee  that issued the subpoena, said the station has important information about the company that may be available to the public only through the documentary, reports Lynn Bonner.

"It has to do with public health and other information," he said.

Alcoa, which runs hydroelectric plants along the Yadkin River, has applied to renew its federal license.

Hartsell opposes the renewal and backs a measure that would set up a public trust to handle revenue from the electric production should the state be allowed to buy it.

The issue is pending in the legislature, which will adjourn soon.

Subpoenas went to Tom Howe, UNC-TV director and general manager, and
Eszter Vajda, the station's senior legislative correspondent. A call to UNC-TV was not immediately returned.

As a state agency, the station is obligated to comply with requests for information.

Hartsell said he could see the First Amendment issues related to requesting copies of all documentary footage.

"It's an ironic position," he said. "We're simply trying to get information the public needs."

The documentary will be shown at 9 a.m. in the committee meeting on Tuesday, and will contain information "that will be very revealing to many folks," Hartsell said.

UPDATE: UNC-TV spokesman Steve Volstad said the station has no documentary about Alcoa. He said the material is planned for use in a series of reports for the show "North Carolina Now." "No documentary is contemplated at this time," he said.


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Subpoenas, like congressional hearings, are for showing off

Why didn't Hartsell simply call and ask for it?  It would probably take less time for a staffer to call, than prepare and serve a subpoena, which is showy and media worthy.  He could also have made a Public Records Act Request under Chapter 132 and would have been entitled to it, but if they said no, the Legislature has left Chapter 132 toothless and prohibitively expensive for newspapers and citizens to use to enforce in the face of a refusal by a state agency.  I suppose he didn't use it because he knew how weak it is.  To bad we don't all have subpoena power.

What's the REAL reason?

Since when does NC politicians care about industrial polluters?! There's the old CTS site up in Asheville where the company pulled out, left toxins polluting water tables and wells, and people there dead and dying from cancer/brain tumors/etc. Then there's PCS Phosphate Mine in Aurora using 78+mill gals of water per day for their operations and throwing toxic waste into its unlined land fill. This makes for double whammy since the aquifer is being dewatered and toxins are heavily concentrated in water tables.

What makes Alcoa different? Could it be possibly 1. control of water w/drawal rights, and/or 2. there's something like 38,000 acres of prime waterfront property ripe for development?

Dale Swiggett
Waterfront Sportsman and the EIC
 

A Sneak Preview for Hartsell?

Sen. Hartsell sounds like he already knows what is in the documentary.  Wonder if he has already seen a sneak preview.

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