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|Rizolis' show kicked off the air in Framingham||June 2, 2010|
|Danielle Ameden 508-626-4416||Metrowest Daily News|
FRAMINGHAM -- Jim and Joe Rizoli, infamous for sharing their critical and controversial views on local cable access, have finally done it.
In light of 26 violations of the Framingham Public Access Corporation's (FPAC) policies, the brothers have apparently pushed the limit of free speech far enough to be yanked off the air.
However, the Rizolis, known for traipsing around town with their video cameras and speaking out on illegal immigration, Holocaust interpretations, politics and other hot topics, claim they've been censored.
"We're going to appeal it ... I'll do it just to say I did it, and we'll just go from there, but what are you going to do?" Jim Rizoli said yesterday. "It's a sad day for censorship/free speech issues for the Town of Framingham."
The corporation's interim executive director Francesca Cerutti-Harris yesterday said the Rizolis have been suspended as members for one year.
"That's pretty much my only comment at this time," she said.
A panel representing the corporation met on May 17 to consider 12 complaints filed against the Rizolis alleging they violated the nonprofit's policies, according to a cover letter sent to the Rizolis.
The letter, signed by Cerutti-Harris and dated last Tuesday, discusses "16 major and 10 minor" violations of policy.
"They legalized this to death, that's what they did," Rizoli said.
The corporation was "always one-up on something we were doing wrong," he added.
Rizoli last week caused a stir at Town Meeting when he proposed a non-binding resolution during discussion of the town's operating budget. He suggested selectmen start strictly ensuring no illegal immigrants are running or working at businesses in town. After some debate, the measured failed.
FPAC has broadcast two of the Rizolis' cable shows: the "The Weekly Show" and "Concerned Citizens and Friends of Illegal Immigration Law Enforcement."
Earlier this year, two dozen town clergy challenged Jim Rizoli's Holocaust interpretations broadcast on the Weekly Show's 100th anniversary episode, when he suggested details have been exaggerated or distorted.
Rizoli said he expects to have fans and foes given the controversy he stirs.
"You're going to expect people to love you and people to hate you," he said.
But the views he broadcasts should be protected by law, he argued.
"This is free speech," he said. "We can say whatever we want."
Under the order, the Rizolis are prohibited from being involved in the cablecasting of any programming during the year, including in a support role.
Jim said he and his brother walked out of the May 17 FPAC hearing, during which the complaints against them were discussed, when FPAC refused to agree to provide them an audiotape of the proceedings.
Regardless of what comes of their battle with FPAC, the brothers will continue to post videos on their website, www.ccfiile.org, Jim said.
"We don't even have a goodbye show," he said. "We don't have anything."
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