Fayetteville City Council and the Telecom Board: the questions that aldermen really should be asking - though I doubt they will | Street Jazz

Fayetteville City Council and the Telecom Board: the questions that aldermen really should be asking - though I doubt they will

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Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times. - Gustave Flaubert

I don’t do this very often, but I’m going to turn over the last part of of my blog today to Marvin Hilton, former Cable Administrator for the city of Fayetteville. I will be printing a letter that he wrote to Mayor Lioneld Jordan and to the aldermen on the Fayetteville City Council.

Like many, Hilton is concerned about some of the proposed changes that are being suggested for the Telecommunications Board, which grew out of the old Cable Board.

Hilton, whose termination from the city in 2008 had the nasty smell of politics about it, isn’t just an ordinary men or woman off the street - though they should be treated with as every bit as much respect as him.

Actually, they should probably be treated with more respect than Hilton has gotten. As of 11:30 this morning, no elected official he had sent the letters to had seen fit to even acknowledge that they had received them.

The former Cable Administrator ( who served for eight years in his job) was also a former Telecom Board member, public access producer and earned his BGS in Communication at the University of Kansas 1979. No mere technocrat, Hilton spent his time studying communications law and maintained regular contact with other access centers across the United States, something long-considered vital in access.

This is not to say that the man who succeeded him is not a good, competent man. He is.

I’ll let Hilton speak for himself.

As the title of this piece indicates, there are questions that the Fayetteville City Council needs to satisfy itself on before it changes anything with regards to the Telecom Board.

Victor Hugo (how I wish I could shake your hand!) once wrote that we legislate not for today, but for tomorrow, and the “Tomorrow Test” should be stringently applied in this case.

Today, in 2012, we have a progressive city administration which hasn’t done too much irreparable harm to public access television (I’ve written about this before), and has the best interests of the people of Fayetteville at heart.

2012

There is an upset at the polls, and most of the progressives lose their seats, or at least by 2014. We have a city administration which is openly hostile not only to public access but to the Government Channel, as well. The Telecom Board, which has long set policy - despite some revisionist history - is made up of political lackeys and resume builders.

How might these changes affect our city? Has anyone even thought of that?

In the early 1990s there was one Fayetteville project in which literally thousands of people from all across our community were asked their hopes and dreams, and immediate goals.

The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce wanted the television cameras taken out of City Hall.

******

And here, for your reading pleasure, Mister Marvin Hilton

This is the letter that Hilton wrote to Mayor Jordan, which he also sent to aldermen.


Dear Mayor Jordan,

In 2000 the City of Fayetteville recognized the rapidly expanding communication technology by changing the Cable Board to a Telecommunications Board. Again, in 2003 Fayetteville made progressive changes by broadening the scope of the Telecom Board to keep abreast of advancing technology.

This progressiveness will be reversed by the proposed changes to the Telecom Board, which are on the City Council Agenda, for January 17, 2012. Removing those definitions and duties that were added in 2003 will imply a more narrow view. Specifically the following are proposed to be removed:

• 33.205 (a) (4) The broad definition of “Telecommunications Infrastructure.”

• 33.210 (a) (6) “Funding for the development and maintenance of the City’s telecommunications infrastructure.”


• 33.210 (b) (6) “Identify telecommunications needs and solutions in the City and define innovative approaches to the use of expanding digital capacity.”

These changes will remove the broad view that could facilitate efficiency and integration across the specialties of the different city departments, such as the Television Center, Information Technology and Parking Enforcement and Telecommunications. A specific example would be to enable citizen participation
in meetings, via two-way video, from their living rooms. Unforeseen technological advances would also more likely be overlooked.

The City Attorney’s recommendations, in regard to the proposed changes, seem to be more in line with the broader view where he states: “With further advances and changes in this exploding technological area, we will probably learn of new forms of service and new names for future providers” He recommends adding to the
scope of the Board to include Internet Protocol (IP) television provider. Isn’t this in opposition to the three regressive changes noted above?

Why are we proposing these regressive changes? I urge you to retain the broad view of the three items noted above in the present Telecom Board Ordinance and keep Fayetteville progressive.

I am doing this because I want Fayetteville to be exemplary in communication. I am available to discuss this through email, my cell phone or in person. I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Marvin Hilton
Former Cable Administrator 1994-2008
Former Telecom Board Member 2008-2010
Public Access Television Producer of the Year 1989
Fayetteville Resident for 20 years
BGS in Communication University of Kansas 1979

*****

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