Connecting the Dots; Keep an eye on Newspaper Tree

My recent blog began the process of connecting the dots between individuals and non-profits being used to push forward a specific public policy agenda. It is important to note that public perception needs to be managed by the political cabal in order to keep the rabble-rousers at bay.

As part of their modus operandi they need to control the flow of information in order to fulfill their goals unimpeded. Notice the attempt to rewrite the Texas’ Open Records law. The rabble-rousers noticed so the cabal just blamed the lawyers and put it away in order to sneak it in later.

In the meantime, public perception still needs to be managed.

The local paper has been helpful but its sometime independent attitude and costly overhead makes it inconvenient to consistently rely on so another outlet is needed.

Useful idiot Jaime Abeytia is no longer useful as his only focus is to stay out of jail. David Karlsruher is out of touch that his mother has to reel him just to keep him from ending up having to again apologize for his blogging activities. Click to read about David’s apology.

That leaves a vacuum that needs to be filled.

Enter the Newspaper Tree.

The Newspaper Tree is currently in the process of forming a non-profit [501(c)(3)] in order to re-launch.

Remember my last blog about using non-profits to fund political agendas?

Under the IRS rules, there is no non-profit designation for journalism, so the Newspaper Tree must creatively submit their application under the “education” designation in order to qualify for non-profit status.

The IRS is clear to note that under the tax code, a non-profit cannot be used “to carry on propaganda” or attempt to influence legislation.

And Anthony still wonders why it’s taking so long for the IRS to issue them the non-profit designation.

As part of the application process, the Newspaper Tree filed a Certificate of Formation with the Texas Secretary of State on November 18, 2010. In it they state;

“To engage in the highest quality independent production, publication and/or distribution of original news and/or news-based materials of community value to far West Texas, southern New Mexico and northern Chihuahua, Mexico, including, without limitation, investigative journalism, community and/or culture reporting, that has educational value and is in furtherance of tax-exempt public interest purposes”.

In other words, let’s figure out a way to make our non-conforming non-profit into one by hinting that their main endeavor is of “educational value” thus forcing it into one of the code’s available slots.

But why would a propaganda machine want to go through the hassle of forming as a non-profit? The obvious answer, that it doesn’t have to pay taxes, really doesn’t make sense because a for-profit company similar to this incurs very little taxable activity and unless they become widely successful, their tax liability is manageable. So why push a non-profit status?

Emanuel Anthony Martinez, the public leader of this latest endeavor, acknowledges that the business model for media is unsustainable. Advertising revenue cannot sustain a news content provider because their highest expense is the largest expense any company can have; the labor. Paying for original content is labor-intensive and expensive.

So why is it that they insist on going the non-profit model?

Could it have to do with the fact that the non-profit model has served the political cabal so well already?

Think about it for a minute.

Who handles the largest concentrations of monies in the community? Who can force higher rates without worrying about losing customers? Who has the ability to force the largest concentration of consumers to pay into a monopoly and actually has the legal tools to enforce payment?

That would be the taxpayer funded government entities. The customers, also known as the taxpayers of the community, are forced to pay taxes which flow into the city, county and school districts coffers.

And from these coffers, the money could to flow to the Newspaper Tree. Don’t beleive it? It’s already happened before.

Let’s take a look at the school districts.

Over the last nine years, the various local school districts have paid over $1.7 million dollars to the Community Scholars, an organization started by Eliot Shapleigh and Ray Caballero’s wife. This organization has been used to pay the salaries of various politicians while they await their turn to be elected. Thus they have the luxury of their salaries without having to make a living.

Is this the type of “investigative journalism” we can expect from the re-incarnated Newspaper Tree?

The notion that a non-profit cannot be used for propaganda purposes is quickly dispelled when pointing out the Community Scholar’s report on banking practices.

Remember how that report morphed into a lawsuit against the banks? Now tie this in with the city’s use of lawsuits to stifle information as evidenced by its latest suit against the State of Texas to keep from having to follow the state’s directive to release public information. It is not the first time the city, or the political cabal, uses the legal system to hide their shenanigans with.

Lawsuits are expensive and therefore are a useful weapon to be used. The political cabal has the use of taxpayer money and therefore lawsuits become useful tools of intimidation.

The other problem is the designation of “educational value”. The problem here is that it is highly suggestive. I can argue that my opinion is “educational” in nature.  In fact, aren’t all publications “educational” in nature? After all, it is the sharing of knowledge with others. Then why has the IRS deemed it necessary to exclude mass media from the non-profit advantage?

Could it have to do that the tax people understand the advantages of using the taxpayers’ funds for promoting a political agenda?

So what can we expect from the re-incarnated Newspaper Tree?

Anthony Martinez conveniently tells us when he states the Newspaper Tree will provide “policy-based” reporting. Policy-based reporting is just code for writing pieces in support of a certain public policy position while destroying others it deems ineffective for their needs.

Every issue has at least three, or more sides; my reality, the other reality and somewhere the truth.

We accept a notion because of the way it is presented to us, not because we fully grasp the full scope of it. Very few, if any individuals have the time and resources to fully evaluate a community problem before making an informed decision and that’s why the majority rely on the public discourse to cast a vote.

Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro are bad because that is what we are told. But is this really the reality? How do we know they are bad? We don’t, we just accept what is decimated to us. Both were elected by their constituency yet we all assume it was through subterfuge. Why, because we were told so.

Now, I don’t know if they are bad or good. I can’t make that determination because I have not studied them in depth nor have I been directly affected by their actions. I use them for illustrative purposes only.

Still not convinced, let’s take a closer look at Emanuel Anthony Martinez.

Martinez, who hails from the Dallas area, worked for the Greater Chamber of Commerce from around May 1998 until 2000. Remember who tried to get the Chamber to fund another non-profit at about the same time and ended up suing local banks because he didn’t get his way? That would be Ray C. Caballero.

Guess where Anthony Martinez ends up, after a short stint in Patricia Macias’ court? That would be as Ray C. Caballero’s Deputy Campaign Manager in 2003. Shortly after Caballero’s election, Martinez launches Newspaper Tree.  Martinez hands over the reins of Newspaper Tree over to Vanessa Johnson in 2004 and then resurfaces as Eliot Shapleigh’s For Senate Campaign Manager in 2006. Immediately after that he goes to work for Shapleigh until 2009. Starting to see a connection here?

“Is news a public good, or a private commodity, or both?” asks Martinez in his online monologue, from late 2012, describing the current evolution of the Newspaper Tree.

Good question. It is a public good if we can rely on it to be incorruptible by those in power. It has to be detached and uncaring on what its investigations uncover. It must be separate and apart from those who are creating public policy. Otherwise it is a commodity to those it serves.

“We rely on newspapers and the media for the information we use to interact with the world, and to make our personal and public policy decision”, he adds.

Very true, unlike a for profit news outlet, the only difference is that a news outlet needs to remain relevant to its readership in order to remain in business. A non-profit relying on money flows from other non-profits is ultimately responsible to the benefactors that donate to them.

Take a look at what Ray Caballero did when donations to his Community Initiatives dried up at the Chamber of Commerce because the benefactors did not want to fund an entity attacking them. Ray Caballero sued the banks and when he lost he already had in place another funding source for the Community Scholars, the taxpayers of the community through the school districts.

From my point of view, $1.7 million dollars of captive consumers is more than a sufficient source of funding for building an army dedicated to promoting general consensus over public policy. If Community Scholars is able to leverage $1.7 million from the taxpayers of the community, why wouldn’t Newspaper Tree be able to do the same?

As always, follow the money and see where it leads you.

A timeline of The Newspaper Tree:

  • Stanton Street Online, owned by Robert “Beto” O’Rourke: 1999-2002 It morphs into the Newspaper Tree in 2003.
  • 2003-2004: It is run by Emanuel Anthony Martinez (August 8, 2003), who is currently trying to re-launch it.
  • 2004-2007: Vanessa Johnson takes over from Martinez.
  • 2007-2009: It is purchased by the El Paso Media Group.
  • In December 2009, the El Paso Community Foundation purchases Newspaper Tree, when the El Paso Media Group is shut down. (Full disclosure: I submitted an inquiry to purchase it from Keith Mahar in 2009)
  • In July 2010, the El Paso Community Foundation is awarded a $203,000 Knight Community Information Challenge grant from Knight Foundation. The grant was matched by local by supporters.
  • On November 18, 2010, the Newspaper Tree files a certificate of formation with the State of Texas Secretary of State.
  • On April 2011, the Newspaper Tree applies for a 501(c)(3). Currently the application is pending.

Read more about Emanuel Anthony Martinez in an article I wrote for The El Paso Tribune in 2004 here.