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dated 2/5, 2/6, 2/7, 2/8, and 2/9
Plus a letter from the President of Villagers, Inc.
that appeared in the last Richland Villager (3/2/50)

Tri-City Herald - Sunday, February 5, 1950, Page 1

     It has been announced that preliminary discussion concerning the investigation of the Richland Villager weekly newspaper will begin at 3pm tomorrow.
     Glenn C. Lee, publisher of the TRI-CITY HERALD, Fred C. Schlemmer, AEC manager at Hanford, and George Prout, vice president of General Electric co., will take part in the discussion.
     Lee has charged that the villager has become a political football and has asked for an investigation of its operation. The publisher said the Villager is a responsibility of AEC-GE and requested the interest of Schlemmer and Prout because the weekly newspaper is operated as tax exempt enterprise.
     It is located on a government project and the majority of its board of directors is made up of AEC-GE employees.
     Lee stated further that when newsprint was almost impossible to obtain, AEC-GE had been instrumental in procuring it for the weekly paper. Also, while tax paying merchants in Richland paid through the nose on percentage-lease-rent arrangements, the weekly paper's rent for a very choice office location amounted to less than a small depreciation charge.
     Lee said to his knowledge a publication had never been made of the operating statement and distribution of profits for the non-profit corporation, Villagers, Inc. Nor has financial responsibility ever been fixed for possible operating losses.
     He further contends the affairs of the paper were being conducted in an unbusinesslike and in a political manner, and that because of the paper's public ownership, a through investigation should be made.
View the above article

Tri-City Herald - Monday, February 6, 1950 Page 1

Feb. 6, 1950
Mr. W. D. Smyth
Board of Villagers, Inc.
705 Building
Richland, Washington
Dear Mr. Smyth:
     In reference to your answer to my recent letter, I regret you are attempting to pass the buck to your editor-manager. I will continue to endeavor to carry on discussion of this matter with you.
     You are president of Villagers, Inc., you are employed by G.E., an agent of the U.S. Government, and you are responsible for the operation of a tax-exempt, non-profit newspaper, published on a government reservation.
     I state again that The Villager, weekly Richland newspaper, is being used as a political football and I want some answers. Other taxpayers are interested in this situation too, and they want some answers.
     As far as knowledge of what's behind the operation and manipulation of The Villager is concerned, your editor-manager, who has had the job just a few weeks, is completely uniformed [sic].
     This puts the hot potato right back in you lap.
     If the potato isn't hot enough yet for you to talk to me about it, stick it back in the oven. If and when it pops, and the hot pulp spatters, it might land on a few heads who are still behind the scenes. This will make it even more interesting.
     One great freedom that Americans still have is freedom of the press.
     It is, and has been, seriously abused, prostituted and enroached upon at Richland.
     Because A FEW AEC-GE Villager board members, and their influence, and unspoken but definitely conveyed wishes, have directed the weekly newspaper.
     Perhaps these FEW are running the show, and the rest are innocent bystanders, just being taken along for the ride.
     Even in the halls of congress, Senator B.B. Hickenlooper, prior to the AEC investigation, dubbed the weekly newspaper a government house organ.
     The time will soon come, perhaps it is here now, for some action. You tell me that you are looking out for the best interests of the paper and constituents of the villagers, Inc., yet the Richland newspaper riddle is still unsolved. How about some more light on the subject?
Very truly yours,
Glenn C. Lee,

cc: G.R. Prout
     Fred C. Schlemmer
view the above


Tri-City Herald - Tuesday, February 7, 1950 Page 1

     (an editorial)

     "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
     These words are from the first amendment to the Constitution.
     AEC-GE government employees control and direct a non-profit tax-exempt newspaper on a government reservation.
     Are they using it to attempt to muzzle a Free Press in the Tri-City area?
     Are they using its printing job as an economic weapon?
     Are they refusing to grant this government printing on a sealed bid basis, so they can show political favoritism? We think so. And lots of other interested people think so too.
     A Free Press is one that may:
     1. Criticize government.
     2. Publish without a license.
     3. Publish without censorship.
     The press represents a certain threat to dictatorial or crooked government.
     Government must not interfere with, or sponsor, or subsidize the press.
     Yet here in the Tri-City area, that is what is going on under our very noses.
     As long as government employees control a newspaper, they hold an axe, and a happer, over the editorial and economic head of a Free Press.
     Behold, the Richland Villager, a political football.
view the above


Tri-City Herald - Wednesday, February 8, 1950 Page 1


     A request by Glenn C. Lee, publisher of the Tri-City Herald for a conference with George R. Prout and Fred C. Schlemmer concerning operation of the Richland Villager was denied late afternoon by Prout.
     Prout is Hanford Works manager for General Electric company and Schlemmer operates Hanford for the Atomic Energy commision.
     Lee's request had been for an investigation of the villager's operation. He termed the paper a "political football."
     A meeting between Prout, Schlemmer and Lee had been tentatively set for Monday afternoon. This meeting was postponed and Prout followed this by denying a request for another meeting.
     Prout, however, made a counter proposal of a press conference at which the matter would be discussed.
     Lee said this morning that while he wasn't personally interested in attending a press conference, he would send Herald editorial representatives to such a conference if and when Prout wanted to arrange it.
     A misleading report concerning the investigation requested by AEC-GE of the Richland Villager was being circulated in the Tri-City area this morning.
     Representatives of outside newspapers contacted the Herald this morning with information obtained for AEC-GE public information offices that Herald Publisher Glenn C. Lee refused to meet with Hanford officials regarding the matter.
     Said Lee; "I am shocked and amazed at the lack of interest on the part of AEC-GE for the welfare of the project in the way this case is being handled. As government employees, they are obligated to the people to make a complete investigation of this situation. Their latest action indicates they have neither the intention or desire to check into the matter."
     Lee said he believed a press conference at this time would be "woefully premature" and would hamper the investigation he has requested.
     He pointed out that because of the past violations of business ethics and contractual obligations on the part of the Villager Board it would best serve the public interest that certain matters not be aired unit the investigation was underway by AEC-GE.
     In his original request for an AEC-GE probe of the villager's affairs, Lee said the weekly paper was a direct responsibility of AEC-GE because it was a tax exempt, non-profit enterprise operating on a government project.
     The Tri-City Herald is now the official paper for the city of Kennewick. After some discussion at the Tuesday meeting, the Kennewick city council voted unanimously to name the Herald. The action was taken due to suspension of publication by the Kennewick Courier-Herald, the city's former official paper.
view the above


Tri-City Herald - Thursday, February 9, 1950 Page 1


     George R. Prout said today at [sic] Richland General Electric company has no intention of investigating the operation of the Richland Villager, weekly newspaper.
     The Hanford manager for GE said the Villager, which is published by a non profit cooperative association of citizens, had a status similar to that of a church, The Masonic lodge and the American Legion.
     "It is not our right, nor do we want the right, to interfere."
     The statement was made at a press conference which also was attended by Fred C. Schlemmer, Hanford manager for the Atomic Energy Commission. Prout said the conference had been called at the request of Glenn C. Lee, publisher of the Tri-City Herald. Lee had charged the Villager was being used as a "political football." He had asked GE and the AEC to investigate its operation.
     Lee did not attend the conference. Prout said that after The Herald's publisher had made the Villager a "matter of public interest" by printing front page editorials and letters it was felt that request of other members of the press to attend could not be denied.
     "After he (Lee) made it a matter of public interest we didn't see how we could refuse to permit others to attend."
     Prout added that Lee had declined to attend the conference when informed members of the press would be there, saying he preferred a private discussion.
     The GE vise president did not, however, rule out the possibility of future conferences with Lee on the matter.
     He emphasized that GE and the AEC have no control over the Villager, no more than they have over a church, a club or a veterans organization.
     "As far as the company is concerned, we don't presume to have the right to interfere."
     He also disavowed any responsibility for financial losses by the weekly newspaper. He cited that the Richland Jaycees in underwriting a community c_l_gration, had suffered financial losses, but that neither the government nor GE were responsible.
     He admitted that the Villager board of directors had members who were GE employes [sic], but said the company's policy was not to interfere in it's employes' [sic] private lives. Schlemmer said that at present none of the board members were AEC employes. [sic]
     Both also denied that to their knowledge, there had been no interference in the past by GE and the AEC in the weekly newspaper operation.
     Lee said later, in a prepared statement:
     "I am shocked and _______ed at the lack of interest on the part of AEC-GE for the welfare of the project in the way this case is being handled. As government employes [sic] they are obligated to the people to make a complete investigation of this situation. Their latest action indicates they have neither the intention nor desire to check into the matter."
     Lee said further ___ahan___ AEC-GE were not being very realistic. If AEC-GE think they can place a government project tax exempt newspaper in the same category as a church on the project, they better start adjusting their thinking.
view the above

March 2, 1950
in the final issue of the Richland Villager (Vol. 5, #53)

James W. Phillips
Richland Villager

Dear Jim:
     I should like to take this opportunity to express my personal appreciation to you and the loyal members of your staff for the full cooperation given me and the Board of Directors during the past few months. We all realize that there have been moments of and sometimes days of despair when we have been openly criticized for what we have considered to be honest and honorable actions.
     It is with a great deal of pride and satisfaction that our publication has weathered this criticism without having to apologize in any way for what we have done.
     We can now anticipate a barrage of additional slurs, slanderous statements and untruths from the Tri-City Herald and we deeply regret that we will be unable to reply to anything that might be said through the medium of a non partisan public spirited publication such as the Villager.
     I therefore state now and for the future that I, personally, and the members of the Board of Directors of Villagers stand on our past performance and trust that the people of this city will understand that our action in suspending the publication of the Villagers [sic] was done only in the best interests of the membership of Villagers, Inc.
     I, personally wish you and your staff members the best of luck in whatever activity you may elect to pursue in the future. I am confident you will succeed.

     Best personal regards.
         W. D. SMYTH
         Villagers, Inc.

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