January 30, 2007

The Powers Report

Law Office of Jimmy A. Bell, P.C.
9610 Marlboro Pike ~ Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Phone (301) 599-7620 ~ Fax (301) 599-7623
Website: www.jimbellesq.com
Email: jimbellesq@aol.com

January 30, 2007

Via Fax and Federal Express
Honorable Nancy K. Kopp
State Treasurer
State of Maryland
Goldstein Treasury Building
Annapolis , Maryland 21401

Re: Notice of Claim by Dr. Tyrone Powers

Dear Ms. Kopp:

This is a notice of intent to file a claim under the Maryland Tort Claims Act. In accordance with the requirements of the Act, I provide the following information:

I represent Dr. Tyrone Powers. Dr. Powers was the host of Morgan State University ’s W.E.A.A. 88.9’s The Powers Report Public Radio News program, which ran on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. In 2003, The Powers Report Public Radio News program began broadcasting from W.E.A.A. 88.9 F.M. from the Benjamin Bannaker Building on the campus of Morgan State University . Since its inception, the program format has included three segments: News, guest interviews with private citizens, political officials, and others; and the Final Analysis. The show is pre-recorded and consists of approximately 42-45 minutes of content.

According to W.E.A.A. General Manager Dr. Donald Lockett, sometime in the later part of December 2006, Kweisi Mfume, current member of the Board of Regents for Morgan State University , approached the President of the University, Dr. Earl Richardson, claiming to be acting on behalf of the Governor-elect, Martin O’Malley. Mr. Mfume told Dr. Richardson that Mr. O’Malley did not like some things that were said during the Powers Report Broadcast and wanted the show cancelled. Dr. Richardson supposedly asked Mr. Mfume if he could identify what specifically was said or done on the show. Mr. Mfume did not provide Dr. Richardson with details or specifics but stated that the Governor-elect referred to shows aired over two previous months. Mr. Mfume repeated that the Governor-elect wanted the show pulled from off the air.

According to Dr. Lockett, Dr. Richardson contacted him and inquired about the show, explaining the conversation held between him and Mr. Mfume. Dr. Lockett explained that while the content of the show was controversial, it did not violate FCC regulations regarding obscenity, profanity, indecency or slander. Dr. Richardson asked to have copies of the show for two past months. In an informal conversation held between Dr. Powers and Dr. Lockett regarding the inquiry from Dr. Richardson, Dr. Lockett explained to Dr. Powers that it was not an issue of policy but of politics.

Executive Producer Leslie Parker Blyther received a telephone message from the W.E.A.A. News Director Kortni Alston on Tuesday January 9, 2007 requesting copies of broadcasts that included any comments made about Martin O’Malley. Copies of the show were furnished to Dr. Lockett and Kortni Alston by Production Engineer, Zachary Coleman. Later, Ms. Alston told Dr. Powers to inform Ms. Parker Blyther to disregard the previous telephone message.

On Tuesday January 16, 2007 , Dr. Powers and Ms. Blyther were told by General Manager Dr. Lockett that the President of the University was permitting the show to continue to air but that Dr. Lockett was asked to ensure that proper policies were put in place.

On Tuesday January 23, 2007 , Dr. Donald Lockett informed Dr. Powers and Ms. Blyther that the show would not air that evening. He read aloud to Leslie Parker Blyther and to Dr. Powers, an e-mail message from Dr. Burney Hollis, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts (W.E.A.A. station falls under the School of Liberal Arts ). It stated that the Powers Report was “indefinitely suspended pending further discussion.”

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law”…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” Article 40 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights States: “That the liberty of the press ought to be inviolably preserved; that every citizen of the state ought to be allowed to speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that privilege.”

Dr. Powers is alleging that Governor O’Malley used his government position, under the color of state law, to abridge the freedom of speech of Dr. Powers and force him off of the airways at Morgan State University’s WEAA Radio because Powers Report Public Radio News program was critical of Governor O'Malley.

For these reasons, on behalf of my client I now send you this notice of intent to file claim for $88.9 Million Dollars, for violation of my clients’ rights secured to them by the Constitution of the United States and the State of Maryland, Maryland Declaration of Rights, and other common law torts.


Jimmy A. Bell, Esq.

No comments: