This is sort of interesting, in a Twilight Zone kind of way. Before he was mayor, Dan Coody spoke before the Fayetteville City Council on September 19, 2000 (while running for mayor) about the Government Channel, and the dangers of having the council micro-manage the Cable Board (the original name of the Telecomm Board).
Warning: this is Coody Classic speaking, so it doesn’t quite jibe with the actions of the current Coody administration.
Mr. Dan Coody, an area resident, stated if they had the Council over the Cable Board it would only bring more politics into the process than what were there already. He thought that was a big mistake. As far as bringing the debates onto the Government Channel he thought it was very appropriate, because they needed more political dialogue rather than less. They needed to open it up so there would be more dialogue and free exchange of ideas and perspectives.
There’s just nothing I can add to that.
Susan Thomas: That statement is no longer operative?
If anyone should get a Nixon reference, it’s someone from the Coody Administration.
At our Telecomm Board meeting last week, I asked Dr. Susan Thomas, Public Information Officer for the city of Fayetteville, whether repeats of past issue forums were still allowed on the Government Channel. In a clearly unguarded moment, she said yes.
After the meeting, I told a reporter from the NWA Times that I was going to request that certain past forums be played on FGC, so that folks could see the value in them. That remark was printed in the paper.
Now Thomas has instructed the staff not to replay the old forums - until the council takes a position on the subject - something Coody Classic was opposed to all those years ago.
This is not the first statement in recent days that Thomas has made that is no longer operative.
Upon terminating Cable Administrator Hilton, she told the press that his position would be advertised, but she told the Telecomm Board last Thursday that his responsibilities were to be shifted around to other employees.
Cynics are already saying that this falls in with her original plan last winter to dissolve the CA position and spread the work-load around.
I’m sorry, but isn’t a Public Information Officer supposed to provide accurate information - I don’t know, like, all the time? To do otherwise would be less than respectful to the people of Fayetteville.
I think I’m about to get Candy Clarked!
Speaking of disrespect, I see that I have been “disrespectful” to the Public Information Officer. From the Northwest Arkansas Times this morning:
Thomas also wrote that she wanted to be removed from her assignment with the Telecommunications Board because of the "negative working environment"and conflict between her and certain board members.
Asked about that, she chose not to identify specific members; however, at the last Telecom Board meeting, Chairman Richard Drake made comments that could be perceived as disrespectful.
He told Thomas that her making some progress on the city's franchise agreement was like being a little bit pregnant and, when she said a decision on the forums was a council decision, he disagreed, saying he wasn't being rude but the decision was "up to you."
Thomas said once aldermen have made it clear what they expect of the Telecom Board, she would be happy to provide staff support to the board.
As you might imagine, I am in a state of terrible anxiety this morning. Could I be removed from the Telecomm Board because I refuse to let the Board become just a stenographer for the current administration, or because I don’t like being told one thing one day, and then another thing another day - by the same person?
And quite honestly - talking about the "progress" that was made on a franchise agreement with Cox that never came to pass? You either have one or you don't. I know it, and Dr. Thomas knows it.
What to do? What to do?
If I am removed from the Telecomm Board, or pressure is put on me to resign, how can I speak out on these issues?
If only I had a public access interview program?
If only I had a blog.
If only I wrote for an alternative newspaper - and had a drawer full of FOIA requests that I’ve been sitting on ever since I joined the Telecomm Board.
Oh, wait! I do!