Monday, October 30, 2017

The Bay Journal Wants It's Money Back

As a news organization, it’s always uncomfortable to be in the news, as opposed to just reporting it. But political appointees in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have put us in the headlines.

As you have read in related articles, the EPA told us without warning in late August that it plans to revoke a six-year award to partially fund the Bay Journal, beginning in 2018.

Providing a political appointee with the power to revoke grants is uncommon and, as near as we can determine, unprecedented. Typically, if a grant is revoked, it is because of poor performance. The EPA specifically told us that was not the reason, but rather because of a “shift in priorities,” without saying what that shift was.

The decision’s potential impact goes well beyond the Bay Journal, as there is no point in the EPA, or any agency, asking people to go through the cumbersome process of applying for multi-year funding awards if a political appointee can reverse them on a whim. We will be appealing this decision.

As this process begins, it has been gratifying to see the outpouring of support for our work. We’ve seen an important uptick in donations, protest letters to lawmakers and EPA officials and other helpful offers of assistance — things I’ll be talking more about in the future.

The grant cancellation has also raised questions about the future of the 27-year-old Bay Journal. First, let me say that we believe the EPA’s action has no merit. But the case may well take months to play out, creating a prolonged period of financial uncertainty for us. Though EPA funding provides only 40 percent of the Bay Journal’s funding, it is the largest single chunk of our budget. If the cut is upheld, filling that gap will be a challenge.
As for a grant being revoked for "shifting priorities" being illegal, I was once in a NOAA grant that had it's money cut (but not eliminated) because they wanted to spend more money on satellites. We were pissed, but we didn't think it was illegal.

As much as I quote the Bay Journal, it's always bugged me the EPA and NOAA (who both fund) the Bay Journal, have funded what is basically a nominally private propaganda arm which can be relied on to take their side in public controversies. 

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