Sunday, March 08, 2009

MGAT Commission Convenes

Members of the Milford Government Access Television (MGAT)
Committee are (from top left): Phil Kearney, Bob Adams,
Toby Zabinski, Mike Manente and Paula Patterson.

From a press release issued March 6th by the Milford City Hall:
Milford Government Access Television Committee Holds Inaugural Meeting

Milford, CT, March 4, 2009: The newly appointed Milford Government Access Television (MGAT) Committee held their first meeting on February 24 in the Platt Vocational Technical School Library Media Center.

The Committee was created in November 2008, in part to ensure all Milford government programming is available to the citizens of Milford. The Committee is responsible for assuring MGAT complies with the policies and procedures established by state and federal laws and regulations. In addition, the Committee is responsible for rafting the annual budget request for MGAT, and for advising Mayor James L. Richetelli, Jr. on MGAT personnel selection, appointment and employment.

The Committee consists of new Chairman Mike Manente, Phil Kearney, Paula Patterson, Toby Zabinski, and Bob Adams. MGAT’s Senior Line Producer/Broadcast Director Dennis Guaglianone also attended the first meeting.

Among other business, a brief history of MGAT was presented, covering the development and evolution of Milford's government access TV. Sol Silverstein, Chair of the Town of Orange Government Access TV (OGAT), discussed how the Orange commission operates. The 2009-10 budget was reviewed, along with a discussion on how the recent Area 2 Cable Advisory Council (CAC) grant will be utilized.
This is the committee to which I was appointed during a rather contentious Board of Aldermen meeting (link) that basically morphed into a very public vetting and somewhat embarrassing confirmation hearing. The main problem the minority Republicans had with me was that I was a member of the Democratic party, and there are no Republicans on the board (three D's and two U's, or is it two D's and three U's? I forget); and that I'm a "left-leaning blogger", apparently residing somewhere in the political spectrum between William Ayers and Che Guevara, and who knows what kind of programming I'd put up on that channel?

Although the vote to confirm me was a 9-6 split exactly along party lines; and the vote was the ONLY non-unanimous confirmation vote during an evening where something like 100 board and commission members were confirmed, I feel this is an opportunity for me to prove how non-partisan a person should be when working diligently on a project that will benefit everyone in the city, not just members of a single party.

As I've often said, my only goal in MGAT is to help bring total transparency to the process of local government. I think we all win by demystifying the process and opening up the meetings to those who might not otherwise have the chance to be there in person. The tangible results are likely two-fold: both good and bad policies receive wider exposure, and more people may be compelled to participate in local government.

With those sorts of results, we can safely assume we'll ALL benefit.


Nopartisan said...

Good luck with your efforts, howev er the republicans will think you are shilling for the democrats, while the democrats will think you are being to easy on the republicans. Neither party will judge your work for fairness, only that mgat will be another way to advance a blind partisan agenda. Sadly this shouldn't be but they are politicians.

CT Bob said...

On any other commission, that might be true.

But since the MGAT commission is supposed to broadcast video of the city's monthly meetings, basically whatever goes on in the meetings is what will go out on the broadcasts.

We can't exercise editorial or content control over the meeting broadcasts, so I can't even imagine a scenario where anyone on the commission would be able to spin them for partisan purposes.

Anonymous said...

Bob, they are politicians. Perhaps I let my lowest expectations for them cloud my thoughts. However as a lifelong resident of Milford, I have seen more than a few occasions of what they are capable of. I would almost bet money that unflattering camera angles would be complained about, a technical glitch at the wrong moment will be a cause to run you and the others out of town etc. Perhaps I am too cynical, but somehow I just don't think so.

Anonymous said...

In East Haven the Government Access Channel shows board, commission and Town Council meetings. It is also open to any office holder wanting to discuss issues with the public. Explicit politicking is supposed to be forbidden. However, during the last election campaign the former Mayor pushed the limits for the GAC as shown in this NH Register story. They are politicians. No matter what you do election season will see them pushing the limits for an advantage.

CT Bob said...

Keep in mind there was an ad-hoc committee that has been doing this for many years before the official commission was formed. The current commission is made up of three of the four people who originally did the MGAT work. And the fourth person is the line producer/programmer for the channel.

They've dealt with issues like those you've raised quite fairly, and I don't expect that to change one bit now that I'm on the commission. But I will be on the lookout for any situations that may arise similar to what happened in East Haven.

I'm not as cynical as some of you because I've met them and can already gather that they are dedicated volunteers who simply want the best for the city, partisan politics aside.

CT Bob said...

Ugh. I think I got the caption wrong on the press release. I think I switched Mike Manante and Phil Kearney. Yes, I'm a bad proof-reader.