Monday, June 02, 2008

Fayetteville, The Government Channel's Role

I read City Attorney, Kit William's memo about the 2 concerns he had about the way the Government Channel was being used.
Allowing forums, roundtable discussions, talk shows etc., on the Government channel rather than on the Public Access Channel would eventually mean that the primary purpose of the Government Channel to show the citizens their government at work could be drowned out by special interest groups debating or discussing their views while taxpayer paid city employees had to plan, film, produce and cablecast the show

In a time when the city's finances are not doing well we shouldn't have citizens start ordering the city employees to spend money on their projects.
However, he went on to say that in recent years the Government Channel has "wandered"into Public Access Channel domain by producing and cablecasting public interest forums. Williams argued that trying to limit the content of forums to "governmentapproved subjects"is difficult and may not be constitutional under the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.

There will be some one who feels that their project belongs on Government Channel and would sue the city if it was reject. Having previously accepted public interest forums, the city is likely to lose such a lawsuit. I think Kit's concerns are reasonable and deserve to be investigated. That's why I was so shocked to read about a full blown conspiracy in which Susan Thomas,Public Information Officer, was trying to censor and/or outright kill all free of speech. How did the newspaper editor put it?
The term for it is power grab.

Ah, yes, and this conspiracy also involves the "administration" (Mayor Coody).
The bigger concern is that the administration’s latest intrusions open the door to further meddling in programming on the Government Channel. Some future administration might be inclined to tamper with the policies even more. The programming could become just what it was designed not to be: a tool to put the current administration in the most favorable light.

Yeah, the tin-foil hat conspiracy brigade is in full force. I was reading this and this and I just wondered what in the heck were they smoking. Fortunately, there is some one that has been acting like a sane, rational adult. Nancy Allen. Her comments at the May 22nd meeting were right one. Way to go Nancy! She is quite right that the City Council needs to review the policy of the Government Channel and also the responsibilities of the Telecom Board.
So, the issues brought up by Kit Williams has created more friction between the Telecom Board and the City Administration and has led Susan Thomas to say she didn't wish to appear before the Board. Richard Drake, Chair of the Telecom Board has vented his feelings about the whole situation and wondered if he should resign. Based on what I saw from the meeting, I would have said no, don't resign. However, he decided to blog about the whole situation and probably made the whole thing worse.
So, in essence, I was publicly Slimed by a member of city staff.
Which is fine, as far as it goes. I’m a big boy. But there is a larger issue at stake here, and that is one of fairness, and equal treatment before the city.
I didn’t mention the fact that the person who chose to Slime me before the city council was highly-paid for no particular reason, but to make a point. In the grand balance, is the word of a staffer to be taken over the word of a citizen-volunteer - who makes zilch - automatically by the city council, without even hearing from the individual involved?

Yes, now I think you should at least resign from the chairmanship. It is so wrong for a member of a city board, particularly the chair, to write this about a city employee. I don't even care if Richard is in the right. Richard should have taken any beef he had to the Mayor or any City Council member. His blog was the wrong place to do it. There is a rule in blogging that says you should never write about your boss. There should be another rule and that is to never blog about a city employee when you're a member of a city board.

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