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ROOTING FOR THE NEWS

That's certainly one viewpoint.
But it ignores entirely the faculty's feeling that its members had no say in campus matters.

And Dr. Walker was widely viewed as ruling the campus like Idi Amin Dada. Walker enforced a gag order that forbade all faculty and staff from making any public statements without first clearing them with the administration.

A former music major who had been the band instructor at Parker High School, Dr. Walker acted as if the faculty at Yavapai College were a regiment of troubled tuba players who would allemande left at the wave of his baton. Before long, Dr. Walker would come to understand that far from drilling a pack of pubescent piccolo pipers, he was dealing with the full and terrible majesty of the faculty of Prescott's most prestigious junior college.

As a cost-cutting measure, Dr. Walker was accused of slashing assorted shop and home-ec classes without consulting the appropriate instructors or constituting committees.

The conflict in Prescott built to a fever pitch. At one public meeting with the college's Board of Governors and Dr. Walker, undercover police were discovered in the audience.

There is a man standing next to me with a gun under his jacket," screamed participant Joe Chancerelle. ÔAnd I am afraid of what is going to happen if I speak out!"

None of the teachers, students or concerned citizens was gunned down or even pistol-whipped, else you'd have read about this dispute a long time ago in your big city daily. It was clear, though, that people had their blood up.

Board member Dr. John Oakley, considered an ally of Dr. Walker's, informed those assembled that he'd invited the cops in because of threats telephoned to the administrators.

Kathy O'Halleran might be a journalist who is full of herself, but she was also a journalist with a sense of mission. The dispute at Yavapai College had her initials, B.I.G. S.T.O.R.Y., all over it. With her departure from the Sun, there was a vacuum.

Following O'Halleran's resignation, Schrader said 35 picketers showed up outside his office, which for Prescott is a crowd equivalent to the German mob that tore down the Berlin Wall. Soon signs began appearing on the Prescott Sun's circulation boxes asking, Where is Kathy?"

A kind of town meeting was called at the Prescott Pantry, a sandwich shop specializing in gourmet food, white wine and insurrection. O'Halleran was asked to attend.

People donated money, formed a foundation and asked O'Halleran to start a new paper.

And she agreed.
I've been in the business 15 years and that night I cried," recalled O'Halleran. I was there to say goodbye to these people. It still gives me chills and goose bumps."

And sure enough those skinny little arms poking out of her sleeveless dress begin to bubble up until her limbs look like defrosted chicken wings.

The people here, I'd have felt I let them down if I didn't do it," said O'Halleran. Daily, I have a knot in my stomach. It's like having a baby."

Except that childbirth isn't nearly as much work.
O'Halleran and her relentless cohorts, Jody Bell and David Dupree, worked around the clock getting out the first nine weekly issues. The paper accepted no ads, relying entirely upon donations, subscriptions and street sales. The weekly Citizens' Monitor adopted a sassy tone and covered Prescott's news, particularly the uproar at Yavapai College, like javelinas.

The toll on O'Halleran is considerable.
I may be getting a little bonier, but I'm not getting bitter. If anything, I'm less cynical. It's a mental thing. I don't think I'm getting ill, but every penny counts. If I don't eat as often as I would like, that's the sacrifice. I make sure my two kids eat."

On April 25, the foundation that supports the new publication held a benefit at a local steak house.

O'Halleran was in fine form. She told the cheering crowd that if Gordon Schrader got down on his knees and begged her to return she would just tell him, Take your job and shove it. Yee-ha."

Back at her table she let on that the steak and chicken platter was the first square meal she'd had in some time.

The evening's fund-raising concluded with an auction of some truly stop-you-in-your-tracks western art.

In the audience were a lot of good ol' boys with Budweiser tumors hanging over their rodeo belt buckles as well as rail-thin guys with extravagant sideburns who looked to be familiar with the business end of a slide guitar. This group was not bidding up the art.

Nonetheless, Alan Feingold, an out-of-work sheriff, said they raised $1,000 for the Citizens' Monitor.

Last Saturday, May 9, the executive committee of the statewide board which oversees Arizona's community colleges convened in Paradise Valley. It took comments from Yavapai board member Dr. John Oakley, who dismissed the concerns of the faculty.

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey