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Columns
November 30-December 7, 2005

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Robert P.J. Cooney, Kirk Smith, Cynthia Mathews, Sara Wood Smith, Pat Smith

Mayoral Roots: Celebrating Sara Bard Field's legacy are Robert P.J. Cooney (author), Kirk Smith (step-grandson), Cynthia Mathews (mayor, step-great-granddaughter), Sara Wood Smith (step-great-granddaughter) and Pat Smith (step-grandaughter-in-law).

Nūz

The Mayor's Step-Great-Grandmother

While Nūz is admittedly fixated on the 22nd Amendment, which dictates that "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice," we're always ready and willing to give a shoutout to anyone who helped with the passage of the 19th Amendment, also known as the Woman Suffrage Amendment, which is 85 years old and guarantees women's right to vote.

Local author and graphic designer ROBERT P.J. COONEY JR. has put together a remarkable, enormous and beautiful 496-page volume called Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Suffrage Movement. Besides its author's local roots, the book includes the story of SARA BARD FIELD (1882-1974), poet, political activist—and step-great-grandmother of our recently appointed mayor, CYNTHIA MATHEWS.

Apparently, Field, who was married to a minister twice her age, was already working in the suffragist movement in Portland when she was introduced by SCOPES MONKEY TRIAL defense attorney CLARENCE DARROW to CHARLES ERSKINE SCOTT WOOD, who would eventually become Field's second husband and was already a prominent lawyer and poet.

According to historical reports, their affair scandalized Portland, but Field and Wood, both free thinkers, lived in a "free union" until Wood's wife died in 1936. Field's skills as an organizer and orator were formidable, and in 1915 she achieved national celebrity with a transcontinental road trip to the nation's capital, where she presented President WOODROW WILSON with a petition endorsing the proposed amendment with 500,000 signatures.

After the death of her son in 1918, Field retired from political activism and moved with Wood to Los Gatos; the two large cat sculptures guarding their (former) driveway are still visible from Highway 17. There, she continued to host salons of poets, actors and musicians and write books of poetry, including Barabbas and The Pale Woman; in the dedication to her grandson KIRK SMITH (Cynthia's father) she called herself his "step-grandmother, with love that has no step in it."

Asked what it was like growing up with such an accomplished step-grandmother, Smith, who was only 4 years old at the time of Field's cross-country trip, says, "As kids, we weren't too impressed with that. I was unconscious about that kind of stuff."

Even when Smith became a registered Republican, family discussions revolved around mutual interest, rather than political differences.

"She didn't get involved with small talk very often," remembers Smith. "She took life very seriously and didn't have much of a sense of humor ... but she was always very lovely, very pleasant, very cordial."

Mathews remembers seeing her step-great-grandmother at Thanksgiving holidays.

"Even in her later years she was extremely engaged in contemporary issues and politics," Mathews recalls. "She was a very commanding force, and I can see why as a young woman she would have been so effective as a political organizer."

This latest discovery of our new mayor's family tree seems to explain a lot about Mathews' own political engagement, but Mathews insists the effect was subtle.

"It wasn't as though we had an intimate relationship, but it was certainly part of the family environment that I grew up in."

Cooney's book will be honored by eight local women's groups on Dec. 1 at 6:30pm at the First Congregational Church Fellowship Hall, 900 High St. Call the Resource Center for Nonviolence at 831.423.1626 or visit www.rcnv.org for information.

Radio Shout Out

KENNETH A. KONZ, the inspector general whom the board of directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting engaged, may like to think that his snappily titled report, "Review of Alleged Actions Violating the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, as Amended," is the real reason that KENNETH Y. TOMLINSON resigned from the organization, but Nūz knows better.

It was, in fact, Metro Santa Cruz's June 29 cover story, "Shock Waves," which was published four months before Konz decided to weigh in on the issue, that really did Tomlinson in.

OK, so maybe "in fact" is overstating the case, considering that Konz began his investigation a couple months before our article even came out. (The report says field work started in May 2005.) But Metro Santa Cruz doubtless still deserves 100 percent of the credit for catalyzing Tomlinson's resignation. And here's why.

Our "Shock Waves" piece, which analyzed Tomlinson's actions as the interim chairman of the board in relation to the CPB's appropriations battle in Congress this past summer, pretty much presaged the findings of the report, but got to the point a lot quicker: that Tomlinson was a Republican apparatchik intent on weakening the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's role as a firewall between federal dollars and editorial content.

Meanwhile, it took the inspector general 67 action-packed pages to report the details of Tomlinson's various misdeeds, including hiring a right-wing consultant to analyze Public Television's editorial content, advocating for the creation of the "Journal Editorial Report" (in defiance of the mandate that prohibits board members from being involved with program development) and disbursing a sweetheart deal to departing president KATHLEEN A. COX, who was given a $400,000 golden parachute after being deemed "not political enough." (Her package was worth three times her annual salary and accounted for in a way that would make ARTHUR ANDERSON proud.)

According to Washington Post reporter PAUL FARHI, Tomlinson was also in contact with White House officials (including the dreaded Carl, er, KARL ROVE) during the hiring process of the new board president, former Republican National Committee co-chairwoman PATRICIA HARRISON. (Apparently, Harrison passed Tomlinson's illegal, but applicable, "political test.")

With all the misdeeds at the top, will this have any effect on local public broadcasters like KAZU and KUSP?

"Certainly the board and CEO have said very clearly that there needs to be major improvements about how they manage their internal affairs," says KUSP's general manager, TERRY GREEN. "My own view is that the issues of political interference are still unresolved. It is very clear that this is a CPB executive suite that is dominated by people with strong Republican ties and that it is more likely than not that they will have a different sense of what balance is than what might have been true at CPB five years ago." Good luck getting BERT and ERNIE out of the closet now. Even with Nūz's helping to pry open the door.

World AIDS Day

Since Nūz knows perfectly well that all Santa Cruzans rush out to the news racks when Metro Santa Cruz hits the stands on Wednesday morning, we also know you'll have plenty of time to participate in the WORLD AIDS DAY candlelight vigil at the plaza in front of Jamba Juice on Dec. 1 at 7pm. The SANTA CRUZ AIDS PROJECT is hosting the vigil, as well as a reception at Cafe Limelight (1016 Cedar St.) from 7:45pm to 9:30pm detailing SCAP's ongoing efforts and plans for the future.


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