Rights Restricted: ESPN & The Bill Simmons Debacle

A big topic in the news today has been the suspension of sports journalist and commentator, Bill Simmons, by ESPN for his remarks regarding NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The three week suspension of Simmons by the network has drawn criticism across the mainstream media and social media networks.


In order to provide some background for those who might not be aware, Simmons launched headfirst into an explosive tirade filled with expletives on an internet “podcast” show that he hosts regarding Commissioner Goodell’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse incident.


In his three minute verbal bashing of Mr. Goodell, Mr. Simmons asserts that the Commissioner saw the tape of Rice punching his then-fiancé in an Atlantic City casino elevator. He continues by stating that Goodell would “fail a lie-detector test” if it was administered to him.


Mr. Goodell had initially suspended Rice for 2 games, then when the tape from the elevator emerged and the NFL looked badly, he reversed the decision and suspended Ray Rice indefinitely. Many people feel that the NFL saw the tape and were trying to cover up the incident by stating that they had not seen it during the initial investigation.


ESPN, which televises NFL games on Monday nights and pays billions of dollars for the rights to those broadcasts, acted swiftly by suspending Mr. Simmons for his comments about Commissioner Goodell. The response to this action by ESPN has been mostly negative for the network across the media and the social media sites, particularly Twitter. There is a Twitter “hashtag” which is trending today that notes a conversation thread of a hot topic and it is: #FreeBillSimmons.


In addition, Bill Simmons openly dared ESPN to suspend him for his comments, which probably was not the wisest course of action.


Many people feel that Simmons should not have been suspended for stating what many of us feel is the truth about the Ray Rice case. The fact that ESPN has a huge contract with the NFL makes the network look like they are pandering, and that they are restricting the freedom that the Constitution provides to those in the media to speak openly about any issue.


Fuel to the Fire


My friend pointed out to me on Facebook last night as we had some dialogue on this issue that ESPN’s suspension of Mr. Simmons is much longer than the action that the network took against another commentator, Stephen A. Smith, who was suspended for one week at the beginning of the Rice scandal a few weeks ago.


This wide variation in the suspension lengths was reported today by the mainstream media as well. In order to provide background for those who are not aware, Mr. Smith, also employed by ESPN indicated in statements on the air during ESPN programs that women provoke men and put men in the position to hit or physically abuse them. Those statements immediately raised a public uproar and ESPN responded by suspending Smith for one week.


The difference in the suspension actions taken by ESPN has added fuel to the fire and has opened network executives there to extensive public scrutiny and criticism that they punished Simmons strictly because he attacked the NFL, which is their “cash cow”.


However, the argument can be made that what Mr. Smith intimated in his comments has far greater long term ramifications on the central issue of domestic abuse than what Mr. Simmons said during his podcast.


The Other Side


In fairness, there are still others out there in the general public that do not view what ESPN does as pure journalism. They feel that the network is strictly a sports broadcasting medium which is greatly influenced in its coverage by the corporate sponsors and the big professional sports leagues which combine to provide them with huge advertising revenues.


Another faction feels that Mr. Simmons should have been suspended regardless because he represents ESPN and he used several foul words in his frustrated diatribe against the NFL and its’ commissioner, Roger Goodell. This viewpoint gains strength when considering that Mr. Simmons has a significant role on the network’s NBA basketball coverage which includes several Sunday afternoon games that children and young adults watch across the country on ABC.


Rights Restricted


The fact remains that the suspension of Mr. Simmons should have been made in-line with the suspension of Stephen A. Smith, or the network should add 3 weeks to the suspension of Smith in the near future. ESPN now has an image issue that it did not expect, and that no network wants to have to deal with.


The majority of the American public, which happens to be the prime customer for ESPN, believes that the network acted harshly to Simmons, muzzled his Constitutional rights as a journalist, and pandered to their corporate sponsors and the NFL.  That is a big problem for ESPN at this point which they will need to somehow address.


Unfortunately, I have seen this situation happen to other journalists that I know, and I can understand the sentiment that the freedom of the press is hindered by corporate interests from the big conglomerations which own the networks as well as the other forms of media. It will be a part of a much larger debate brought to light by this situation with Simmons and ESPN.


In the end, the NFL is a multi-billion dollar industry with tremendous resources and enormous power. Their story that they did not receive the tape during their investigation into Mr. Rice seems highly unlikely. Mr. Simmons was saying what many of us already knew or thought to be true. The fact that he got suspended for being upset about the NFL’s poor handling of a horrible incident involving the abuse of a defenseless woman while Mr. Smith got a far less rigorous suspension for actually defending Ray Rice is the root problem here.


That decision by the executives of the network is not only what is wrong with the whole situation involving freedom of the press, it is an indictment on our society. The fact that so many people found it as troubling as I did, gives me hope that maybe our future will be better than the issues of the past several weeks.

Reflections of 9/11: Darkness Then Light – Poetry by Frank J. Maduri

It has been 13 years since the terror attacks of 9/11 on New York City and Washington D.C. which shook our nation, and the world, to its core. Some children today were not even born when these tragedies occurred. The rest of us all have our own personal account of that day because the memories are still so stark and profound in our consciousness.

I find that September 11th and Hurricane Sandy are two events that are difficult for me to write about, and I can write about nearly any subject. I attribute this difficulty to the personal impact that both events had on my life. I also feel that words cannot adequately express the multiple layers of emotions emoted by those two tragic events.

I wrote a short post here on Frank’s Forum last year on the anniversary of the attacks which was focused on the remembrance of those victims who lost their lives, their families, and the firemen and first responders for their brave service. Those sentiments all certainly still remain, and will always remain a part of this day for me. I also continue to focus on living my life and directing my work in honor of those who died so tragically that terrible day.

I have had some time for reflection today, and over the years I have come to find that through even the darkest of times there is light which shines and goodness which comes to the forefront. I found that in the testimonials of those who survived the terror attacks who were helped by total strangers that day. I have witnessed it in my own community after Hurricane Sandy struck the Jersey Shore. People I had never met helped my wife and I as we struggled with that terrible circumstance. That is the light of the human soul that we need to focus on today and in the days ahead.

The darkness seems to be upon us again with ISIS and terrorist activity in Africa as well as a war in Ukraine. It seems like history again repeating itself, but we can change that narrative. We can change that narrative into one of hope, peace, and love for one another that will, in the end, be the light that shines through all the darkness of the human condition.

I mentioned earlier that I have a hard time with expressing my thoughts on 9/11 because the event so profoundly shocked, saddened, angered, and hurt me. The best way I could think to share some of those emotions is through my creative work, through some poetry I wrote about that tragic day and the days since.



“The Towers Fell”

This one tragic day in September It started with a bright cloudless sky

It’s a day I’ll always remember Later that morning, three thousand people would die

I remember being truly frightened

They attacked our home, it happened so fast

Now many years have come and passed

For the victims, their families, life hasn’t brightened

All over the globe was a shockwave

The stock market ceased trading for days

Our lives were in a vacuum in many ways

I wish more lives that day God could save

The towers fell, which lead to a war

Our days will never be the same as before

For those who that day lost their lives I pray for their families, their husbands, and wives.



“Across the Bay”

My wife and I were in Union Beach today

She took pictures, we looked across the Bay In the distance the Manhattan skyline

We could see the rising new Freedom Tower

Though this town is far from fine Talking with people here – they’re sour

About the slow rebuilding after the storm

Six months after Sandy’s powerful wrath

It doesn’t help that the weather isn’t warm

Though the people trust the Lord’s path

I wish there was something I could say

To help alleviate their pain, anger, fear

I say this to my wife and we looked across the Bay

I knew how lucky I was for all I hold so dear



“America No More”

You know what scares me?

It’s if America ceased to be

If I lost all of my freedom

If I lost all of my liberty

Someone told me when I could go and come

That is what truly scares me

If I couldn’t say what I feel

If I couldn’t offer God praise

If I was stripped of the American ideal

I would exist as if in a haze

If someone told me what I had to write

If I was told what I had to believe

I would rather just lose my sight

The loss of beloved America is more than I can conceive



“Sky Fall”

In the blue sky that fateful morning

It all came crashing down with no warning

Lives ended, innocence trampled, hope lost

Evil pervasive, good extinguished, society tossed –

Upside down, backwards, the towers collapsed

The entire world, everywhere, collectively gasped

Earlier that morning from the sky would fall –

My Dad throwing to me a white baseball

I was supposed to that day get on a flight

My Dad had a feeling something wasn’t right

The night before I had a bad feeling too

Throughout the morning that feeling grew

Though what happened I never anticipated

Instantly so much shock, sadness was created

My Grandpa was on a plane somewhere that day

From the sky it did fall safely landing in Raleigh

So many lives cut short, so many months of fear

Why are they gone and I’m still here?

So much rain like tears from the sky fall

So much has changed, yet nothing changed at all

From the sky will fall rays of the Sun

To show us all our journey has just begun



“Darkness Then Light”

Evil comes in all of its darkness

Hatred for those they’ve never met

An unspeakable act of destruction

Shattering the lives of so many at once

My mind cannot comprehend it

I wake up some days, think it’s –

A nightmare that it never occurred

Then I feel the warmth of the Sun

The light fills up the room

I realize that good will prevail

I rise to take advantage

Of the blessed gift of life

I move forward to honor those lost

I have time they did not receive

I have an obligation to do right

To love and serve all others

To inspire and to live in the light

The light of a blessed new day




Seeking solace where there’s none

Another days’ battles lost and won

Emboldened by success to build

For tomorrows’ challenges fulfilled

By the small measures taken –

By man. Your confidence unshaken

Imbued and not ever feeling dismayed

From your core principles you’re unswayed

Stay the course against the shifts in tide

Your fears and worries will subside

The world is there to devour

But it’s also there for you to scour

To find the pathway best suited

Not become undermined or polluted

To face the days whether gloomy or bright

To move forward further to the light

Embarking constantly on new avenues

Knowing your faith guides what you choose

Seeking the way to find your success

Imbued with hope and willing to accept nothing less



“Glory Be”

Glory be the Father, the Son

The Holy Spirit – Blessed Trinity

His love for us has just begun

His love will live for infinity

He created the Earth and the Moon

He created the glorious Heaven

But nobody wants to get there soon

Jesus took bread with no leaven

He blessed and broke it for all

He took the cup of wine – “My blood”

He carried the Cross, three times to fall

His death, sorrow over the world did flood

Victory over sin and death we believe

Eternal life, through Christ, we receive


We will never forget the lives lost on September 11th or in the terror attacks throughout the world since then. God bless all of you.


(Copyright 2014- Frank J. Maduri – all rights reserved. Image of NY is copyrighted image all rights reserved.  No copying or redistribution of this material without express written consent from the author)

California In Drought – Nestle Bottles Water?

The severe drought conditions being experienced in the West have been a source of concern for several months and have shown no signs of improvement. There are mandatory fines in California, Nevada, and other western states for watering lawns or washing down driveways. The agricultural consequences of this drought have been devastating to California with reports of crops lost.


The job market in California has been impacted as well with farming and other agricultural related jobs down across the board. The drought has effected small towns in the desert valleys and big cities near the coast, with nearly 95% of the Golden State’s population in some sort of water restriction.


Here on my blog, Frank’s Forum, I have covered the impact of the drought on Lake Mead and the subsequent water supply issues for Las Vegas, parts of Arizona, and Southern California. One of the “mega themes” of my blog is the environment and issues of sustainability, so this issue falls into both of those categories.


The media has reported recently about another controversial aspect dealing with the sustainability of water amidst the catastrophic drought gripping California at this point and that is the continued practice of Nestle to bottle water there for export to other states.


The issue is a highly charged and polarizing one with some viewing the activity by Nestle as wrong or unfair; and others viewing it as a necessary job creator and supplier of a healthy beverage alternative.


Current Conditions

The estimates from well-respected environmental science groups are that the Western states have lost 63 trillion gallons of water during the drought. This is driven primarily by the effects of climate change on the supply sources which in turn feed the reservoirs in those states.


In California, three major reservoir areas have been dramatically impacted by the drought conditions plaguing that huge state:

  • Trinity Lake = 29% capacity
  • Shasta (fed by Sacramento River) = 30% capacity
  • Oroville = 31% capacity

The City of San Jose recently instituted a city-wide water restriction policy for the over 982,000 residents of California’s third largest city. The restrictions include a fine of $500.00 for washing down a driveway.


Sacramento and other large cities throughout California have similar water restriction policies in place. The reservoir supply levels are so drastically low, that these policies are necessary to better protect the remaining supply of this dwindling and essential natural resource.


In my research, the local websites for news in California are covered with advertising for lawn replacement services promoting sales of synthetic grass products.  It is only natural that conditions dictate a market for other businesses to provide their products or services which are driven by the demand for those products; in this case due to the unfortunate severity of the drought conditions.


Many California residents have ripped up their lawns rather than watch them wither away and die because they cannot use the water to nurture their grass and other landscaping. This action also has a conservative effect in that the synthetic surfaces will obviously help retain water supply levels for use for drinking or other critical functions.  These same residents have varied opinions on the fact that one giant food and beverage company is still allowed to bottle water for sale while everyone else is dealing with shortages of this resource.


The Nestle Dilemma


The bottled water division of Nestle’, the world’s largest food company, has several brands under its umbrella. In the California desert, in Millard Canyon which is about 80 miles east of Los Angeles, is the site of the water source for Nestlé’s Arrowhead Natural Spring Water and Pure Life water brands.


The site is located on the Morongo Indian Reservation and is considered a sovereign nation therefore it does not have to comply with state laws concerning the drought restrictions on water. Nestle entered into a 25 year agreement with the tribe sometime around 2001-02.


Under the terms of this agreement, Nestle pays the tribe for the water it extracts from the site. An ancillary component of this arrangement is that the source site is exempt from local oversight and is not legally obligated to disclose the water amounts being utilized for the manufacturing of their product.


The reports from local residents are mostly negative toward Nestle because those communities are dealing with water restrictions, sewage issues, and disruptions in their water service. It is understandable that they would be upset that just down the road a huge corporation is drawing out water to bottle and export to other states across America.


The State of California has 100 bottled water facilities located within its borders, and their operation has been largely unaffected by the drought. The majority of the other water facilities have a different situation than the Nestle facility in Millard Canyon. Those production facilities have to report their water consumption activity to a state level agency. The water conservation restrictions are handled by the county level or local authorities, and they are essentially cut out of the situation when the bottled water manufacturers deal directly with the state agency in Sacramento.


It is important to mention that the other bottled water manufacturers have strong feelings regarding the Nestle deal at Millard Canyon and have aired those grievances to the media. The general consensus is that all the bottled water and beverage manufacturers should be held to the same standards for reporting their respective usage at all the facilities located in California.


This activity begs the question: Should the bottled water companies be allowed to proceed when the rest of the California is under such dire water restrictions? Should Nestle be allowed to bottle water in an essentially completely unregulated scenario on a Native American Indian reservation?


Meanwhile, CNBC published a very well done piece on this subject which explains how much water is used to make soft drinks, scotch whiskey, and other beverages.


In my own professional background working in the food and beverage industry and dealing with bottled water companies, I know that it takes water to make water. In order to make 1 liter of bottled water it takes 1.39 liters of water that is due to the amount lost during the various stages of processing.


In addition, it should be noted that the packaging used, which is also made in California, the PET plastic and the various other plastic bottle packaging uses a significant amount of water in the production process. In a place where water is in a critical level shortage it has raised debate over whether it is appropriate for this activity to continue.



Green Water


The bottled water industry is a $12.2 billion dollar empire and California is a state strapped with debt and other economic problems, making this situation even more problematic on a variety of levels.


Local residents also note that Nestle has a reputation for moving into small towns and communities and draining the area of all the water supply, “down to the last drop” as one resident explains, and then moves on to the next town.


Many groups of concerned residents and environmental conservationists maintain that this sort of activity by Nestle and other large beverage manufacturers involved in bottling water should be regulated and curtailed as soon as possible.


If California were to get involved in a regulatory measure against the bottled water manufacturers, it would constrain further the economic difficulties of this state in a post recessionary period that has been very difficult. However, the larger ethical questions raised and the ecological impact involved has become the central focus of the debate in the Golden State at this point which has become more important than the economic issues involved.


Nestle responded to some of these allegations but did not comment on the questions regarding their past practices of extracting a source to the end and then uprooting out of the respective community. The company did, in fair balance, raise the point that if they were to cease operations then the people of California would be forced to choose an alternative beverage such as soda, iced tea, or beer. The company spokesperson focused on their commitment to providing healthy choices through bottled water and that they have strict environmental standards in place to remain compliant with California laws.


The Nestle plant, it was noted, was designed to prevent damage to the local groundwater supply. Though the details to how it is designed specifically were not disclosed.


The Morongo facility is on tribal land, and they are not bound to disclose information on the water usage levels there. However, for those residents that maintain that it creates jobs, the detractors would point out that the facility employs 250 people.




The fact remains that water is a precious natural resource and it needs to be safeguarded and protected during times of drought or supply shortage. The concurrent theme running through this situation is that of the effects of climate change.


In my previous work covering the dire situation at Lake Mead, the largest water reservoir in the United States, it is apparent that climate change is having a dramatic impact on the mountain streams which feed the Colorado River, which in turn supplies Lake Mead.


The changes in temperatures and environmental as well as atmospheric conditions coupled with the increased westward population migration trend in the United States, and the result is a significant problem with potentially dangerous consequences to a huge number of people. The impact of climate change and migratory patterns of several species of birds including the changing temperatures being tied to the deaths of these animals has also received increased media attention this week.


In Nevada, the state and local government agencies have worked diligently on programs focused on sustainability of the water supply through the reuse and recycling of the water in their system. Some reports I researched detailed the proposals currently pending in California regarding similar measures, though some members of the population are hesitant about the recycling processes involving wastewater, so it remains a work in progress.


I believe that recycled water technologies are going to account for a large amount of the innovations moving forward as a method to deal with the effects of climate change. The system currently in place to provide water service to residences and businesses in many regions of America leaves some room for improvement and increased focus on sustainability.


The question remains: Should Nestle and other beverage conglomerates be allowed to bottle water for export to other states during severe drought conditions where residents are dealing with restricted access to water?


That debate will continue to be a part of our national conversation but the role of climate change in this scenario cannot be overlooked. The larger question of our role in environmental stewardship will also continue to frame a much larger argument in the months to come.


(Background information and statistics courtesy of CNBC, USA Today, The Associated Press, and the International Bottled Water Association)



Selected Poetry by Frank J. Maduri

It has been a little while since I posted some poetry here. I felt it particularly incumbent on me to share some of this work today as it seems our world is falling apart at the seams every time I go on the internet or watch the news at the gym. There is hope and we all can find it in little things each day.

The poems that follow have been entered in poetry contests, literary magazines, and also submitted to religious websites and newsletters. I hope this work resonates with you.




Every day another bombing or attack

Another terror act, more brutality

It’s become our worlds’ new reality

Wishing our world would just go back

Before the attacks on New York City

And the months of sorrow and pity


We feel powerless to prevent these acts

Some horrible tragedy suddenly occurs

Everyone’s on edge and just reacts

The laws, sides, morality; it all blurs


However it’s the terrorists who’ll atone

For all of their evil and sinfulness

When they have to stand at God’s throne

Then they’ll be truly powerless


“Free Form”


My head hurts from the stress;

I try to stay the course.

This world is such a mess;

Many people show no remorse.

Abuse, neglect, disease, turmoil

War, murder, political corruption, instability.

People fighting over the same soil;

Leadership which lacks capability.

A banking system which is in shambles;

A fragile union in Europe on the edge.

Every politician just rambles;

“Not our problem” is the usual pledge.

Egypt has elected new leadership;

Syria has continued to spiral in chaos.

The Middle East is losing its grip;

The war in Afghanistan is a total loss.

A world torn apart by war and sin;

We know we need to find peace.

The Lord is the answer;

Prayer is the best communication.

I hope we find the humility

To find it within ourselves

To ask for help from the Lord.


“Another Night”


The end to another chaotic day

Yields to the calm of the night

My mind is somewhere out of sight

Where drugs and bullets fly when kids play


Where people struggle just to eat

Where violence occurs everyday

They don’t know any other way

Where people live on the street


Another night I spend comfortably

Another night they’ll spend in fear –

Of being stabbed, robbed, even killed

Another night they’ll spend hungry

There’s no solution that’s clear

Another night I’m left feeling so unfulfilled





The Sun through the leaves

The trees around me, the smell –

Of the woods, reminds me of youth

The curtain of branches protecting –

Me from the powerful Sun rays

Cooling myself, the rabbits, and birds

I remember back to playing in a tree house

Or hiking in the park with my parents

The curtain has drawn on those days

My youth is long gone – family has changed

The curtain has gone up on a new stage

My life has evolved into a haze of work

And medical issues which control the action

Of my days and I don’t spend enough –

Time returning to the roots of nature

The roots of what God has provided

The curtain will go down on this stage

One day too – my days will change

My life will be less busy and priorities

Will shift – between the curtain

I look to take advantage of each day

To trust in God and take each day

As a gift and a blessing

Like walking today in the woods

Before the final curtain is drawn





Watching war and famine unfold –

The origin of my sorrow.

The struggle of the poor –

The origin of my frustration.

Seeing those I love live in pain –

The origin of my anger.

My inability to cope with it all –

The origin of my despair.

Thoughts of things I could have done –

The origin of my regret.

Missing out on life due to illness or injury

The origin of my melancholy.

The love of my wife and family –

The origin of my strength.

My dedication to writing –

The origin of my pride.

To serve my God above –

The origin of my life’s purpose.

Commitment to prayer –

My origin of inner peace.

The love of my God

The origin of my security.

To love and serve others

The origin of my life’s goals




“Divine Mercy”


His Divine Mercy is endless

I thought as I prayed today

As God is my witness

I’m sorry for pushing it away

With God at the center

Anything can be done

Allow His love to enter

Your battles will be won

It brings me some calm, peace

When I stop to pray

My worries all cease

He washes them away


“Without Warning”


You never know that it’s near;

It strikes from out of nowhere

Without warning to create fear

To reap a full measure of despair

You can try to be calm, be ready

Nothing can prepare for what’s ahead

It’ll rock you until you’re unsteady

It will bring you a sense of dread

Without warning whether fog or clear

Evil will strike in your life

The Lord will dry every tear

The Lord is shelter during chaos and strife

If you trust in Him and believe

He is there for you, all of us, always

Then victory over sin you’ll achieve

He is there for us today and all of our days

Without warning, He will return once more

To show us the Path that’s true;

Peace and love, He will soon restore.

Without warning, He’ll come to you.

So don’t be anxious or afraid.

Through Jesus our sin debt has been paid.


Thank you for reading my poetry and visiting my blog!


Copyright – 2014 – Frank J. Maduri – All rights reserved.

No copying or reproduction, or reuse of any kind without express written consent from the author.