It was different this past week when the Dunkirk Cable TV Advisory Board met - longtime chairman and recently resigned Danny McGill was not at the helm.
In the absence of a chairman Mayor Anthony J. Dolce took charge, welcoming the four board members in attendance; holdovers Ed Eaker, Jim Bunge, John LaMattina and newly-appointed Bob Torrance.
"It's no secret some changes have gone on since the board has last met, but with change brings new opportunities; opportunities that we're all quite excited about," Dolce stated. "Everybody knows Christa (Haynes), Danny (McGill) and Paula (Arntz) have all resigned from the Cable Board as well, so we do have some openings."
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Dunkirk Cable TV Advisory Board member Jim Bunge had questions during Wednesday’s meeting about the recent change in Local Access 12 operations.
Dolce thanked the members for their commitment, then noted there were three openings on the board as member Edwin Rodriguez has a new job and has recently resigned. Dolce then talked about a new direction for the board before he introduced Mike Carbone and Andre Cobham from V3 Studios, the new operators of the Local Access 12 station available for Time Warner customers. The company was hired at $1,000 per month to run the station through the end of the year by a Common Council resolution approved at its May 21 meeting.
"To make this truly an advisory board these gentlemen will be operating the station, the programming of the station. They will not hold official seats ... and I'm holding down the fort right now. They will run the day-to-day operations of the station. We advise them, give them any advice, assistance going forward and I'm sure they'll talk about that too."
When Dolce moved to turn the meeting over to Carbone and Cobham, Bunge asked to say something for the record first.
"It's been talked before in this room about government being transparent and I just feel that Christa and Danny didn't get a fair shake. They served many years serving the city, the community, and with out-of-pocket expenses. I mean they gave you face time when you were younger through Sports Rap, and I think they should have been made aware of discussions that were going on to bring in this new company," Bunge stated. "I'm not against the new company, OK, but I just feel that Danny and Christa were not handled correctly. They should have been made aware that you were looking to upgrade things and this is what we were going to do. Then they could have taken it from there instead of having a bomb dropped on them."
Dolce said the pair had been "on notice" as a result of council meetings and budget discussions.
Bunge stated that was not what he got from published reports in the OBSERVER but Dolce replied he did not want to comment on newspaper articles.
"They were put on notice, if you will, that we weren't thrilled with the level of programming being produced. I'll also say I thank Ed (Eaker) for the face time. I've also been part of a show that wasn't treated so well in the past. So as you can tell by my comments, I complimented Danny and Christa fully," Dolce continued. "They did give a lot of time over the years and I think they built the station up. Bill (Rivera) and I talked to Christa privately and expressed that we were going in a new direction. At that time we thanked her very much and welcomed her to stay on the board, as well as Danny and everyone else. We thought that would be great in an advisory committee. I'll just leave it at that."
Bunge said he thought that with McGill's and Haines' longstanding service "things could have been handled a little more tactfully."
Dolce said again Haines was notified in a private meeting, one which McGill could not attend due to health reasons.
"Going forward I hope these guys do a great job, they've got their work cut out," Bunge replied. " ... Part of what affected Danny and Christa was the lack of volunteers, something we have to see whether that can be improved."
With V3 Studios under contract through Dec. 31, Bunge wanted to know what would happen at year's end. Rivera said that decision would have to be made later, hopefully with a full board.
After further discussion, LaMattina said Rivera was playing both sides, having not brought information to the board about the negotiations with V3 Studios. Rivera said he was asked not to share information with the board but that McGill and Haines were made aware of what was in the works.
Bunge wondered why the rest of the board was not informed if McGill and Haines were.
"In any negotiations, until the negotiations are finalized, there is some stuff you can't acknowledge publicly. So until we knew these guys were definitely coming on there's nothing to notify Christa or Danny about," Dolce replied. "We had kept them in the loop, they knew. It was very public last fall, ... very public that we were not thrilled."
Bunge asked if the pair were aware they were being replaced. Dolce said he stuck up for the duo last fall, asking for an extended opportunity, "to see if they could become more successful with the volunteers and programming."
"We were able to get them a volunteer from Fredonia State that wasn't utilized. Again, I was part of the show that wasn't encouraged to stay on the air," Dolce added. "Again, I compliment them for their many decades of service, but again, the volunteers weren't there, the programming wasn't there, and it was time to try something else."
LaMattina was assured the board would be reported to by Carbone and Cobham.
"That's probably the reason why to have that designation, that wasn't there before. The people running the station were also running the board," Dolce stated. "To me, there should be a separation, that's why they're not going to occupy board seats. We advise them, they keep us abreast of what's going on at the station. They would love us to help out with the programming, so hopefully that's what we can develop."
By December at the latest, customers of Time Warner in Dunkirk can decide if the Access 12 switch was successful.
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