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MAKRAUER'S LIVING ON THE AIR IN CINCINNATI: CALIFORNIA LAWS MORE RESTRICTIVE
LOUIS CHERTKOW
May 8, 1995
 
This letter is in response to George A. Makrauer's Perspective column in the April 17 edition [Page 13].

I serve as president of the California Film Extruders & Converters Association. CFECA recently formed a Printers Committee to help its printer members deal with regulatory restrictions in Southern California, which are the most stringent in the nation and threatening to become worse. It is easy for Mr. Makrauer to sit in Cincinnati and write about how water-based ink technology has allowed him to meet his customers' needs and comply with air pollution regulations.

That, however, is not what we in Southern California are concerned with.

Under new regulations being proposed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, even companies that have been using water-based inks for many years will be forced to significantly cut production or install tremendously expensive add-on controls, just for the privilege of continuing to operate in the Los Angeles Basin.

This certainly is not the "level playing field" Mr. Makrauer admits we are justified in seeking.

Our main objection to Mr. Makrauer's column is that he apparently never contacted anyone here to get the facts before he wrote his column. He states: "Daily, we print low density and high density polyethylenes, polyester and nylon substrates [using water-based inks] and satisfy a growing clientele in a total range of flexible packaging applications, including food packaging." Mr. Makrauer, so do CFECA members in the Los Angeles Basin. However, there are narrowly limited applications in which water-based inks do not meet customer demands. We certainly understand that the idea of technology-forcing rules is to force technology, but if adequate technology is not developed, what should one do? Close the doors and lay off the work force?

What is most interesting about Mr. Makrauer's column is that while the first portion takes CFECA to task for trying to keep its members from being driven out of Southern California by new laws that would drastically curtail production, the rest of his column describes exactly the actions CFECA is taking to respond to increased regulatory pressure in Southern California.

CFECA is not opposed to air quality regulatory efforts. Its Air Quality Policy:

  • Supports the efforts of regulatory bodies, industry and private citizens to clean our air.

  • Urges compliance with all current air quality regulations.

  • Encourages practices within the framework of current air quality regulations which minimize the emission of volatile organic compounds and other pollutants.

  • Seeks to provide a public forum whereby current, compliant printing technology is shared in order that operations comply with current rules and regulations, reducing volatile organic compound emissions as prescribed by law.

  • Encourages its members' involvement with the regulatory process, interaction with various governing (air pollution control) districts and the Air Resources Board so districts are made aware of the problems facing CFECA members and with the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that uniform, realistic compliance standards are enforced nationwide.

  • Urges its members and the districts to jointly seek approved methodology whereby VOC levels are reduced even as levels of product quality and productivity are maximized.

What CFECA does oppose are arbitrary and unreasonable production restraints that are limited to film printing operations conducted in the South Coast Air Quality Management District and that impair the ability of its members there to complete "on a level playing field" with other printers nationwide.

Mr. Makrauer finally moves onto solid ground when he discusses the problems printers have in getting ink manufacturers to provide suitable formulations with good performance characteristics. His experiences reflect ours, and we agree that industry solidarity is necessary to force the development of better products.

As Mr. Makrauer should know, however, it was not printers who demanded inks formulated with 1,1,1 trichloroethane. Rather, it was air quality regulatory agencies and ink manufacturers that pushed printers into using that technology when water-based inks did not perform adequately.

Contrary to Mr. Makrauer's inference, Southern California film printers are not complaining that "it can't be done." Rather, they are banding together to work with the ink companies to "do it here." Until the ink companies come up with the breakthroughs described by Mr. Makrauer, however, those firms must assure that new air quality rules (with which Mr. Makrauer does not have to deal) do not force them out of business.

CFECA agrees that leadership by solution will help everyone. But CFECA's Southern California printer members must survive long enough for the solution to help them. CFECA welcomes Mr. Makrauer's assistance in bringing about a solution to our mutual problems. However, as a fellow film printer, Mr. Makrauer should remember the ancient Chinese proverb: "Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from a friend's forehead."

Chertkow is president of CFECA in Corona del Mar, Calif.

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Louis Chertkow's May 8, 1995 -- 1995 -- op-ed response (above) to my original op-ed raised a question to me (George Makrauer) in 2015 from a mid-20's age business person. She asked, "What did Mr. Chertkow mean with the title to his letter, 'Makrauer's Living on the Air in Cincinnati'?"

CULTURE SHOCK! TIME TRAVEL! For me, not the inquirer. All she wanted to know was what did (and still does, IMO), "Living on the air in Cincinnati" mean?

First, the geographical relevance. I and my company were located in Cincinnati, in those days.

Second, Chertkow's substantive point was, "Makrauer is a bumbling fool who doesn't know what he's talking about."

That definition of "living on the air in Cincinnati" derives from a TV sitcom in the 1990s named, "WKRP in Cincinnati," about a fictional radio station going through a transition from a "no audience" programming format to a rock music program format. Most of the station's on-air, sales and management personnel were "quirky."

Chertkow's ridicule of Makrauer via WKRP most likely stems from the program's most famous episode, "Turkeys Away." Station Manager, Arthur Carlson, the analogue to company manager Makrauer, planned a special event for the new format's first Thanksgiving holiday, designed to capture attention in the air, on the air and in local news media reports. Here is the script dialog of Les Nessman, "the fastidious, bow-tied news reporter, who approaches his job with absurd seriousness, despite being almost totally incompetent (a fact to which he is completely oblivious)."

Les (outdoors working a remote broadcast, using binoculars and scanning the sky): "It's a helicopter, and it's coming this way. It's flying something behind it, I can't quite make it out, it's a large banner and it says, uh - Happy... Thaaaaanksss... giving! ... From ... W ... K ... R ... P!! What a sight, ladies and gentlemen, what a sight. The ‘copter seems to be circling the parking area now, I guess it's looking for a place to land. NO! Something just came out of the back of the helicopter! It's, uh, a dark object. Perhaps a skydiver. Plummeting to the earth from only two thousand feet in the air. A second, a third! No parachutes yet. Can't be skydivers... I can't tell just yet what they are, but ------ Oh my God, they're turkeys!! Johnny, can you get this? Oh, they're plunging to the earth right in front of our eyes! One just went through the windshield of a parked car! Oh, this is just terrible! The crowd is running around pushing each other! Oh, my goodness! Oh, the humanity! People are running about! The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement! Honestly, folks I don't know how much longer... the crowd is running for their lives... [The radio transmission abruptly cuts off.]

 

Johnny: Les? Les? Les, are you there? ...Les, isn't there, ladies and gentlemen... Thanks for that on-the-spot report, Les. Uh, for those of you who just tuned in, the Pinedale Shopping Mall has just been bombed with live turkeys. Film at eleven.

 

Arthur Carlson, Station Manager - Chertkow's Makrauer-analogue: "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

... Makrauer's living on the air in Cincinnati...