The Madison County Democratic Party announced its outrage over the firings of two top managers and subsequent resignations of additional top staff at Alabama Public Television after they expressed concerns about a series of videos that Alabama Educational Television Commission commissioners insisted on airing on the public educational network.
The party is calling for the resignation of the seven members of the commission responsible for the firings and reinstatement of all staff and board who resigned in protest.
Long-time Executive Director Allan Pizzato and his deputy Pauline Howland were fired last week.
“Their dismissal was announced following their refusal to air programming they believe was misaligned with the programming values of public television and a blatant misrepresentation of history,” Madison County Democratic Party chair Clete Wetli said in a statement.
The chair of the Alabama Educational Television Foundation and three board members have resigned in protest of the firings. AETC commissioners serve staggered 10-year terms, a provision that was intended to protect the state network from political meddling.
“However, this decision is clearly politically motivated, meddlesome and not in the best interests of the organization,” Wetli said. “Those responsible should be held accountable to the people of Alabama and resign.”
“Republicans and tea party representatives don’t get to re-write history to suit their own political agendas,” Wetli added. “While some of our fore bearers may have been deeply religious people, they fought for religious freedom for all citizens and feared government’s intrusion into the religious practice of individuals. Our state elected officials and their political appointees are pushing their personal agendas at the expense of one of the core beliefs our country was founded upon: to include a very clear separation of church and state.”
There is plenty of room on the TV dial for religious programming, but not on state-supported stations, Wetli said.
“PBS and APT have always been for educational television, and the programming being pushed strays far from that mission,” he said. “As a party and individuals, we respect people’s beliefs — all of them — but this attempt to use a highly regarded and respected source of information to disseminate misinformation from an evangelical minister and conservative activist groups is dangerous and contributes to the formation of an ill-informed electorate that is easily swayed by fear and hate-mongering rhetoric.”
The group are calling on Christian Republican Governor Robert Bentley to do the right thing: “step forward and do whatever it takes to preserve the mission of public broadcasting in the State of Alabama.”
The Alabama and Madison County Democrats believe in the equality of all people, the power of education, the dignity of work, and the peoples’ responsibility to each other, especially the least of these people. The Democratic Party of Madison County promotes and supports progressive ideals and candidates throughout their communities.
© 2012, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.