City uses grant funds from Mediacom to produce video praising Leach, then shows it on Moline channel provided by... Mediacom.
Nothing unseemly about all of this, right?
This sounds like Mediacom's way of saying "thanks" for allowing them to fleece the citizens of Moline over the years.
MOLINE -- The city spent $3,000 in grant funds to produce a going-away video for former Mayor Stan Leach that it plans to broadcast on its public-access television channel.You might want to add a little thank you to Mediacom when you pay their next outrageous bill. So far, there's been no interest in Mediacom picking up the non-partisan Illinois Channel, a state version of C-Span, but they've set up Moline with it's own private channel. Don't expect any competition for cable providers in Moline, Mediacom's apparently got the city in their pocket.
The video, lasting a little more than a half-hour, was played for the crowd at Mr. Leach's going-away reception May 3. It featured city department heads, staff and community leaders sharing memories of the former mayor and wishing him a happy retirement.
Moline law director and deputy city administrator Jeff Lester said the video was paid for legally, using money from Mediacom.
Moline, East Moline, Silvis, Milan and Coal Valley received a $65,000 grant from Mediacom in 2004. As part of the franchise agreement, the funds only can be spent to buy video equipment or produce cable programming.
The exact amount of the city's share of the grant was unavailable Wednesday.
The city of Moline has no one to qualified to make videos, so it must use the funds to provide programming, Mr. Lester said.
Mr. Lester -- who authorized the video's production -- said the funds are supposed to be used to produce programming that people can watch. "I guess people can come up with different ideas as to what can be done. The direction we have received from the city council is to promote the good things going on in the city," he said, adding that many things were accomplished during Mr. Leach's 12-year tenure as mayor.
The video points out many of those positive things, shows a high level of employee morale and highlights Mr. Leach's high level of communitywide relations, Mr. Lester said.
Mr. Leach could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Because the video, produced by Havana House Productions, was made with grant funds, it did not violate a recently implemented city policy on employee receptions. The policy does not allow spending more than $100 on a reception, and the spending must be approved by a department head or the city administrator before the event.
This is the second video the city has had produced. The first, created in late 2004, features department heads discussing their departments and also cost $3,000.
Neither video is currently played on public-access channel 18 because the channel is scheduled to go live for the first time today, said city public information officer Candace Sountris.
The city was not scheduled to take over operation of the channel from Mediacom until today. "The agreement was that, on June 30, they would have their technology in place to make the switch," she said.
The specific Moline programming, which can be seen only by cable television viewers in Moline, will launch with messages from the city. The videos will begin playing sometime within the next two weeks, Ms. Sountris said.
Ald. Dick Potter, 4th Ward, brought up the $3,000 expenditure at Tuesday's city council meeting, thinking that the money came out of the general fund and the project violated the city's reception policy.
When contacted Wednesday, he declined comment.
Mayor Don Welvaert, who was not mayor at the time the video's production was approved, said he did not question where the money was coming from.
"The video was being made and was authorized by the deputy city administrator, who felt the money was most appropriate for that cause in his estimation, and I did not question it," he said.
"It was done correctly, and I knew about it as an alderman and I would not have disapproved of it," he added. "Stan served as mayor for 12 years and before that as an alderman, and I feel it was appropriate to do that as a thank you from the community."
Ald. Bill Adams, 5th Ward, saw the video and said it never occurred to him that anyone paid for it. He feels the grant money could have been better spent.
"There are more things we could be producing," he said. "We could be doing code-enforcement instruction, water-conservation instruction, instruction on how to avoid the mosquito problem -- just a ton of things, information on the problems we are having with dogs and all of the police calls we get on it."
Mr. Lester said it is important for the city to spend what grant funds it has on programming. If the communities spend all of the grant money by the end of this year, they will receive a $60,000 grant next year.