Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Problem With Northern Illinois "Skywarn" - Part 1 in a Series

For the past 25 years and possibly longer in Northern Illinois, there has been a pattern of abuse happening within the Skywarn community. Anyone who has listened to and observed Skywarn up-close in Northern Illinois will have to honesty tell you that Skywarn is a front for a crew of rather rich, white, privileged, racist, bourgeois, xenophobic, suburban neo-fascists with racial and financial privilege that gets them places in regards to local and regional politics.

The Problem Starts With Ego, Selfishness, and Exclusion

What happens when you grow up with a silver spoon in your mouth, grow old, and have been given the unchecked privileges that come with being white, raised in the suburbs, given social preference based on your race and region of residence, handed a college education which led to an overpaid career that was already pre-arranged for you by someone, and your friendships, your very social standing depends on towing the party line and excluding certain groups of people?

You get a show of ego, selfishness, and exclusion. Amateur Radio has been used by a large group of folks at Skywarn from affluent suburbs as their personal playground, and they have given themselves authority to decide who can participate and who can't. This same group has also decided which areas / regions get the protection of skywarn spotters in regards to ground coverage and what reports get relayed to the NWS (National Weather Service) without delay based on a number of factors that rise to being patently illegal discrimination.

The Chicago Way 
Anyone who knows anything about the amateur radio scene in Chicago and the link to certain suburbs, especially the far northern burbs, knows that there are certain players who have brought the "Chicago way" to amateur radio and the public service aspect. First, it is important to note that public agencies have no real need for amateur radio. Public service agencies have their own equipment, they have their own official relationships with trusted agencies, and they are all trained by their respective governments or respective agencies. It doesn't matter if they're municipal, county, state, or federal. It also matters not whether they are an NGO (non-governmental agency) or NFP (not for profit).

Realistically speaking, the "public service" aspect of amateur radio is the clever jargon used to conceal the real intent of these folks: to bring a new level of nosiness into play. See, this crowd are mostly believers in a paranoid motto that says "In God We Trust, All Others We Monitor". They actually believe they have a right to listen in to a wide range of frequencies and to decode all different manner of electronic radio communication modes under the guise of being associated with "amateur radio public service".

They actually believe that they have a right to be involved in huge events such as the Bank of America 5K Run, certain big bicycle events, and all sorts of other things. The "public service" they provide could easily be done by the event organizers or an outside contractor with staff that actually specialize in that sort of business practice.

All of this started with things like Skywarn, and it quickly became a situation where they were given an inch and they took a mile. The very motivation and sole reason was because these people are engaging in a sick form of nosiness that resembles voyeurism. Observing their personalities, behaviors, and practices tells a story of people who have a pre-occupation with needing to feel as if they are in possession of information and other things that no one else has or can obtain.

The reality is that anyone can find out all of this stuff with a few keystrokes or simply by listening to a combination of trustworthy news sources, amateur radio frequencies, and doing a little bit of investigating.

Investigative Journalism, Criticism, Truth Telling, and Dissent Are Easily Silenced

Earlier today on the North Shore Radio Club UHF repeater (442.575Mhz +114.8PL), this reporter was on with Jan - NE2AR, and we were talking about the differences and disparities between Chicago and certain suburban regions in regards to emergency response after major storms and other emergencies. This author pointed out that those disparities go to to racial, financial, and political privilege. My exact comment was that I observed how everyone goes running to the rescue of the mostly white and financially affluent areas of concern when disaster happens, but no one comes running to the rescue of other areas where there is a mix of people. 

Don - KK9H happened to be participating in the conversation when I did this, thinking he would be intelligent enough and honest enough to admit that this problem exists. I mean, after all, he IS the former Mayor of Northbrook, Illinois, and is now a financially loaded financial business professional.

KK9H comes back on and respectfully gives his disagreement with what I said. I immediately see that he's defensive, as his voice tone and other voice characteristics tell that story. He wasn't just defensive, he's annoyed and offended. The truth tends to lead to these sorts of behaviors, and especially when someone has something to protect. Given Don's association with NSRC, his former political career, his current career, and his social following, he has a status quo and more to protect.

One should note the conversation went on after Don left the conversation even though he was on company time at his workplace. See, Don keeps an HT or something by his side so he can "monitor the repeater". Jan - NE2AR, and myself continued our conversation in which I mentioned certain facts about Northern Illinois Skywarn and how they operate. I linked it with suburban, racial, and social privilege. Don came back on and specificaly said "This is an inappropriate conversation, and I woud like you to keep your opinions off of this repeater. I'm about this close to shutting off this repeater." (funny how facts now become opinions, unless it supports the group, then it's just fine)

My so-called offensive comments? Those will be told in the next section when I tie it all together. The investigative journalism comes in when and where I have asked a lot of questions and attempted lots of research into a dangerous pattern of behavior that could potentially leave the Romeoville NWS Office on the hook for civil damages even though they likely have no clue what's happening.

The questions I've asked have been mostly met with silence, being witness to buck passing, attempted deception by dishonest or misleading answers, ignored e-mails, etc. There have been times when honest, genuine, criticism has been given and was again met with being silenced / shamed. Truth telling about any given subject has been answered by the "community" with the equivalent of Don's above words, or even worse. There has even been private phone calls from certain people high up the chain at NSRC where there was actual dictation of what could and could not be talked about.

The list of "approved" conversation topics pretty much left this, and other operators with literally two topics: emergency traffic, and check - in to nets. BUT, it was ok for everyone else to talk about anything and everything. This operator was told repeatedly that certain "listeners" of the repeater were gravely offended by simple, ordinary, enlightened, factual, conversations such as weather, gardening, traffic, everyday mundane banter between operators, and everything else you can imagine. 
The funny fact is that these "complaining" stations never even use the repeater! Not even on net night! These same stations don't check in or anything. They sit and listen, then they complain to everyone who will bend to their psychotic thought process instead of turning the dial and exercising choice. When dissent is expressed on ANY matter, even when it is done diplomatically, the reaction is shaming and silencing of that voice of dissent.
The "Offensive" and "Non-Existent"  Truth Revealed 
For twenty five years, this reporter and other people have listened to the Skywarn operations in Northern Illinois, operations that comprise the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Will, Grundy, DeKalb, Boone, McHenry, and Lake.

The fact is that Illinois is segregated by race, ethnicity, religion, financial status, and popularity. Northern Illinois Skywarn ops all report to one central repeater system that then forwards their reports from their local area repeater net control to the National Weather Service. In deploying weather spotters, and deciding which reports are sent to the NWS first, the clusters of popular amateur operators who are from high income, white majority communities are given preference. Areas with mixed race, mixed ethnicity, and areas that are not so financially well-off are either given poor to marginal deployment of spotters deployed by each amateur radio group, or their areas are completely neglected altogether, and those spotters who are not with a specific group who are from mixed race / mixed ethnicity neighborhoods with a variance of financial standings see a delay in their reports being handed over to the central repeater group that passes information on to the NWS.

All of this leads to specific groups of white, financially affluent amateur operators and their friends representing a "priority cluster" which provides and experiences the protection and core benefit of early severe weather warning reporting.

These facts lead a person in a reasonable state of mind to conclude that preponderance of the evidence proves that this rises to a level of cruel, wanton, civil rights violation by specific FCC licensed amateur radio operators and their groups which could end up with the NWS taking legal heat, even though there is no evidence that they are even aware of these practices in the field and at net control stations. 
Does The National Weather Service NEED Amateur Radio Operators or Spotters At All? 

The simple and factual answer is a resounding, NO. Given the presence of  local, county, and state employees on the streets representing government operations such as law enforcement, emergency fire and emergency medical services, public works, railroad, mass transit, and other trained weather spotters with access to better, more reliable radio communications, cell phones, internet access, etc, there is no need for amateur radio involvement other than the need for even the whitest and most financially well-off people to play God and decide who gets early weather warnings first, and who never gets them at all.