by Hank Sims
As part of Lost Coast Communication's deal to buy radio station KXGO (reported here yesterday), the Blue Lake Rancheria will take a large stake in the company, according to an ownership report filed with the Federal Communications Commission.
According to the report and LCCI Chairman Patrick Cleary, the rancheria -- owner of the Blue Lake Casino -- will end up with a 43 percent ownership stake upon the close of the KXGO deal. Currently, Cleary said today, the rancheria owns 20 percent of LCCI, which runs three FM stations in Humboldt County -- KHUM, KSLG and The Point.
The ownership question is bound to be awkward for Cleary, who recently announced his candidacy for the Board of Supervisors representing Humboldt County's Fifth District, where the rancheria is located. In the past, the Rancheria has donates tens of thousands of dollars to candidates for the board, including Bonnie Neely and Clif Clendenen, probably making it the largest single donor to countywide races.
Reached a few moments ago, Cleary said that the upcoming stock shuffle will not threaten his independence as an elected official. In the first place, he said, he will recuse himself on all matters pertaining to the tribe that might come before the board. Also, he noted that he and his mother control a larger share of LCCI stock than the rancheria will (though not an outright majority.)
It's all in a day's work, concluded Cleary, who has for many years also served as the chair of the county's Headwaters Fund Board. "I'm used to walking a fine line between special interests, and I think I've always handled it appropriately."