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.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.
"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.
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.)