Longtime Bohemian-contributor Peter Byrne and Bohemian news-reporter Will Carruthers were awarded the Society of Journalists Northern California’s James Madison Freedom of Information Award for the first two parts of “The Power Brokers” series, published by the Bohemian last year.
The series scrutinized the actions of the Rebuild North Bay Foundation, a PG&E-funded nonprofit founded by Darius Anderson, a lobbyist and owner of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and other North Bay newspapers.
“[Byrne and Carruthers’] reporting showed how the Rebuild North Bay Foundation had performed little or no relief work, instead funneling money to benefit a handful of prominent local business people,” an SPJ NorCal press release states.
“Byrne and Carruthers did this work in the face of fierce pressure in a community where the major sources of news are now owned by the same lobbyist who established the foundation they investigated,” the statement continues.
The Fund for Investigative Journalism supports “The Power Brokers” series, which receives pro-bono legal assistance from attorneys at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Commission Urges Day Recognizing Indigenous People
On Jan. 28, the Sonoma County Commission for Human Rights unanimously endorsed a resolution to designate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day.
The name change would signify a shift in historical consciousness, as institutions across the country reexamine the legacy of Christopher Columbus, a historical figure who has long been recognized as the first person to “discover” North America.
“Historians have largely agreed that Columbus did not ‘discover’ the Americas as indigenous people were already here, nor was he the first European to reach the ‘New World’,” the resolution states in part.
“Columbus brought devastation to the Americas, enslaving indigenous people of the region and decimating the population while opening the Americas up to Europe for the expansion of the slave trade at the expense of the indigenous population,” the resolution continues.
“[We took this vote] in solidarity with at least 11 states and 129 cities taking this essential step to honor Indigenous communities and their resiliency instead of the colonial oppression and genocide represented by Columbus Day,” Commission Chair Dmitra Smith said in a message announcing the vote.
Supporters of the resolution now plan to lobby the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors into formally changing the name of the second Monday of October on all of the county’s marketing materials, signs and calendars at the earliest possible date.