Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Clearing the air on MGAT

Originally I wasn't going to blog about this, but because of an article in the paper that contained significant misapprehensions, I feel I had to set the record straight. These words and opinions are mine only.

My appointment to the Milford Government Access Television committee (MGAT) expired on December 31st. The city asked if I would like to serve another two year term, and I let them know I would. We've done a lot of terrific work last year, and I expected to continue to help upgrade and modernize the system to bring government television to the citizens of Milford.

I was informed that my services were no longer needed by the City and the Board of Aldermen had appointed someone else for my position on the committee.

Actually, I wasn't informed at all, and only learned of my replacement when I saw the agenda for last night's meeting posted on the City of Milford's website several days ago. I volunteered to tape last night's meeting, along with tonight's P&Z meeting.

This past year we, as a committee, found it necessary to discontinue working with the Line Producer who had been tasked with putting on the broadcasts. I won't go into the reasons why right now, but it was a unanimous vote by the committee, reached after many months of discussion and careful consideration. All the MGAT meetings are open to the public, and anyone interested could have heard our reasons for the decision.

The idea that politics may have been a reason to do that is simply untrue, but an article by Frank Juliano in the CT Post may have helped convey that falsehood. Although I was correctly quoted in the article, there were many other instances that were absolutely untrue. I'd like to set the record straight on some of this:
The Board of Aldermen is expected Monday night to replace Bob Adams, a Democrat, with Republican Michael Cavallaro on the Milford Government Access Television panel. The reconstituted MGAT is then expected to rehire Dennis Guaglianone, the cameraman and producer who has been videotaping community events since before the commission was formed.
There is no likelihood of the committee "rehiring" the former producer, regardless of the "reconstituted" nature of the committee. As I said before, the vote was unanimous to decide to no longer use his services. He wasn't "fired", because he'd never been "hired" by the City; he was simply a contractor who was authorized to do work for the committee. The committee has sole authority whom to utilize for this work, and we decided there was cause to make a change.
Guaglianone was reportedly fired for not covering some governmental programs, including the mayoral candidate debates last fall, in favor of parades and other community events.
This is 100% untrue. The producer was never tasked with covering the mayoral debates because last year's budget ONLY included enough to broadcast the Board of Aldermen, Board of Education, and Planning & Zoning meetings.

After the first debate wasn't aired, so many people complained to us about it that I voluntarily taped and broadcast the remaining two mayoral debates, along with the City Clerk debate. I also voluntarily set up a website where people with internet access could stream the video of those debates directly to their computers. I also update the website periodically with the MGAT broadcast schedule. All at zero cost to the City.

The parades and community events were the producer's own projects that we allowed to be broadcast on MGAT 79, as long as there was room in the rotation. Nobody gets "fired" because of parades. Whoever told that to Mr. Juliano was speaking based only on their own assumptions.
But Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. and the GOP majority on the Board of Aldermen said they believe that politics, not work performance, was behind Guaglianone's firing.
I'm sorry the mayor feels that way, especially after the months of repeated discussions MGAT chairman Mike Manente had with him regarding the reasons for no longer wishing to work with the producer. It seems like Mr. Richetelli conveniently forgot that he had been aware of the impending action and was given plenty of reasons for it.
The MGAT did not consult the aldermen before firing its employee, said Chairman Greg Smith, R-2, nor did it have to.

"From what I can see that board is not operating in a partisan way, and they have done a tremendous job is upgrading our local access cable," he said.
This is all true. To Mr. Smith's credit, he did take a moment before the meeting to shake my hand and thank me for the work I've done with the committee, even after I questioned him about the reasoning behind the board's decision not to reappoint me. And it is also true that MGAT didn't confer with the board before making our decision, but as Smith said, the committee didn't have to. As I mentioned, our chairman had been in close contact with the mayor in the months leading up to our decision.

What bothers me most about this is that it seems the ruling to not reappoint me was retaliation at the MGAT committee for our decision. Being a sort of well-known political blogger, I'm a natural target. They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease; but occasionally it also gets replaced!

Believe me, if there was any other way to deal with the personnel situation, we would have be willing to do so. Without going into details, the situation between the committee and the producer simply became untenable and something needed to be done. The committee was completely within it's authority to do so. We had a issue with personnel and we did what had to be done.

Any inference that our decision was based on "politics" is simply complete and utter bullshit. If there was one thing you could say about the committee, it's that it was absolutely apolitical in nature. We care ONLY about getting the broadcasts out to the citizens of Milford.

Finally, it has been a rare privilege and an honor for me to work with the members of the MGAT committee. They are some of the most dedicated public volunteers I have ever seen, and I'm absolutely sure they will continue to do great things for government television in Milford.

(The opinions contained herein are mine and mine alone. Please feel free to ask the members of the MGAT Committee their own opinions on this matter. I speak only for myself. I felt that I needed to clear the air on this matter.)


leaveonlyfootprints said...

Sorry to see you go - you always did excellent work and we will miss your effort.

Jonathan Kantrowitz said...

My sympathies - I can only share with you that my experience on Fairfield's committee was several times worse than this.

CT Bob said...

Thanks Alex and Jon!

tobyz said...

Bob- Your explanation here is completely accurate!

The amount of extra work you took on to serve the people of Milford was incredible and your technical knowledge is amazing so it is an understatement to say that you will be greatly missed by the committee members and the fans of MGAT! Thanks - - for all you did!!

tessa said...

As you know, Bob, I am a fan of your work and always both annoyed and impressed by your insistence on fairness and even tempered thought.

Which sucks for hot heads like me.

I have not been reappointed to my Commission position on Economic Development, for completely political reasons. With a rubber-stamp Republican-controlled Aldermanic Board for the Mayor's whims and vendettas, that is to be expected.

It is a shame the City insists on tossing out passionate, hardworking volunteers in favor of petty maneuvers such as this.

You did great work last year and will continue to do so, on your own.

Thank you for your service to the community.

CT Bob said...

Thanks Toby, it's been a real pleasure working with you, and I look forward to continuing that in the future!

Tessa, thanks. Yeah, it was a real bummer that they tossed out someone like you who does all the heavy lifting in favor of a space taker who has an "R" following their name.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you got the boot. You're the last person that should be associated with MGAT. I personally believe you liked covering parades for nefarious resaons and many children commented on how you creeped them out. Many suspect you have underlying issues that need to be addressed. Good riddence Mr.Adams, most will not miss you in the least.

CT Bob said...


This is why I love blogging!

tessa said...

Bob: Error! The person replacing me has a D after his name. As in DINO. HaHa.

Anonymous: Error! You have Bob confused with someother videographer. Bob's parades are along the lines of BoomBox in Willimantic (political) although he is known to enjoy a good tree-lighting ceremony.

CT Bob said...

Oh shit, you're right! He's a "D". Well, there goes my brillian partisan conspiracy theory bullshit right down the drain! I feel a little like Joe Lieberman saying Lamont's candadacy was a partisan challenge to his senate seat in 2006 when the challenger was in his same party!

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Both parties have among their members people that simply don't know when it's NOT time to play partisan.

For several years we had the Fire Chief as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
It was a huge help as often variances were decided all or in part by remaining emergency equipment access; the Chief was in a perfect position to guide the rest of the board in those circumstances thus saving the home owner applicant the trouble of a 2 or 3 week table while we waited for a written response.

Seemed like good government and I was rather pleased that we were one local board that didn't go out of our way to harass or otherwise annoy our own citizenry.

Members of my party however simply had to replace him with one of ours; despite my well known objections. (Plus they put on a guy that to this day I feel is unfit for public office)

Naturally, as soon the other party enjoyed a winning season they did the same thing on every board they could which resulted the next cycle in our people doing more it back and so on.

Two months ago we took control again with a slate of rookies and one seasoned candidate who quickly became Council Chair.

He's one of "my" guys.

For starters, we reappointed the (gasp!) Democratic Town Atty immediately. (He is superb, and it was a strong signal that there's a new Sheriff in town, so to speak.)

There's a time and place for hardball - but it should never interfere with the best interests of the community.

The council chair is after all, "the" council chair who happens to be a Republican.
He's NOT the Republican council chair.
Those that can't comprehend the difference shouldn't be allowed to play in the first place, and should get off the field and sit in the stands.

To place partisan politics ahead of the interests of the citizens at large is an abomination.

CT Bob said...

Exellent comment ACR, I couldn't agree more.

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Thought you'd agree; but did you take the link and read the whole thing?

You won't be seeing too many photos of GOP Chair Healy with his arm around a Democrat. (I insisted and Healy trusted my judgment enough to comply.)

Here in Southington, your party stuck it to one of their own and one of the finest people to ever serve on our council because he wasn't partisan enough.

ALL of his signs had disappeared the weekend prior to the election, no one elses, just his.

I recall a local GOP exec committee meeting early this fall where our town committee chair, and his son who is our newly seated council chair, several others and I all joked that we thought it was a law that we were all required to cross vote for Art simply because even when he was absolutely full of it, his heart was always in the right place and pure white to boot.

It's not often, but occasionally a community is lucky enough to possess a few people who have demonstrated through their own body of civic work that they're genuinely dedicated to their town's interests at large and have no other "agenda".

My good friend, Democrat Art Secondo is such a fellow and his loss on our town council bothers me and others more than a little.

We all know and like a bunch of people; but how many are we PROUD to call our friends?
For most of us, that's a fairly short list.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CT Bob said...

Anonymous - I'm sorry, but I had to delete your comment because it contains possibly questionable allegations against a third party. I hope you understand, but in our litigious society sometimes even an offhand comment by someone can be used as a basis for a lawsuit.

I have no choice but to delete comments like that. If you'd like, please feel free to avail yourself to the online comments sections of newspapers like the Connecticut Post or the New Haven Register. Judging by the content I often read in their comments, they apparently have some kind of godlike immunity from lawsuits that bloggers are somehow open to.