June 30, 2005

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.

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.

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.

> MORE <

8 Comments:

At 6/30/2005 4:42 PM, Blogger diehard said...

Like Stan Leach was resposable for anything. he barley knew what was going on in the 12 years he was mayor.
The only thing he was good at was kissing the rich people's ass. like Hunt Harris,Hans Becker, Joel Brunsvold and Denny Jacobs.
The new guy is even worse.

 
At 6/30/2005 10:38 PM, Blogger youngridemocrat said...

diehard,

did you attend the renew going away party for rick anderson? what were the highlights?

 
At 7/01/2005 9:31 AM, Blogger diehard said...

Capasa?!

 
At 7/01/2005 11:00 AM, Blogger diehard said...

Who's Rick Anderson?

 
At 7/02/2005 10:14 PM, Blogger Scott Westerman said...

Anyone who understands the law knows that Mediacom does not control how the City spends franchise fees. Nor do we control the content that is broadcast in public, government or educational access programming. During my tenure in Quad Cities, I haven't had a single request for the channel mentioned in this post. If the author of this blog wants to contact me, I would love to learn more about it. Call my direct line, 309 743-4100, anytime. I'm happy to hear feedback, pro or con about Mediacom's stewardship of the cable television franchise in Moline. Feel free to write me with your comments or suggestions. Scott Westerman - Region Vice President - Mediacom Communications Corporation - scottwesterman@mchsi.com

PS - Those of us in business and politics who display our personal character in the public arena every day find it interesting that you do not allow anonymous comments, yet don't have the courage to shed your own anonymity. If you truly feel that Mediacom could do a better job serving our community, let's meet face to face in the public venue of your choice and discuss it.

 
At 7/03/2005 6:05 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Scott,
I'm glad to see you defend Mediacom and provide clarification. You’re a fine representative of your company and you're welcome to do so anytime.

When I read your last paragraph, Zell Miller challenging Chris Matthews to a duel came to mind. I hardly think my gripes about cable rates or my opinion that this video matter seemed fishy merits a Lincoln-Douglas style debate in the public square.

As you may have figured out, I think cable and internet access charges are too high. I wish there were more competition so that rates would be more reasonable.

There has been several rate hikes at the same time that Mediacom has increased it's number of subscribers. What happened to economies of scale? (and I’m aware of how cable networks are raising rates, bundling, and all the rest.)

You state that "Anyone who understands the law knows that Mediacom does not control how the City spends franchise fees." To suggest that this is common knowledge is disingenous.

You would have been more honest if you had said, "Anyone who has for some strange reason bothered to read and understands the legal contract between Mediacom and the City of Moline, knows that Mediacom does not control how the City spends franchise fees."

That’s more accurate and honest, and obviously, that statement applies to a very small group indeed.

It also presumes that at no time are laws ever skirted, bent, or broken nor is there ever improper collusion within the law.

Are my views and concerns not valid as stated unless I debate the intricacies of cable franchise agreements with you in a public forum? Cable rates at 50 paces?

I'm not allowed to hold my views unless I know chapter and verse the complex regulations and relationships between municipalities and cable providers? Surely you jest.

The city, uses grant funds provided by Mediacom to produce a video praising an outgoing mayor, who obviously has, or had, great influence in Mediacom’s fortunes. And it's then aired on the new "Moline channel" set up by the very same company? It very well may be all very clean and legal, but it does have an odor to it, and people are free to make up their own minds on the matter.

I hope people read your comment above to get your side of things, and if you feel not enough readers will see it, I’ll be happy to reprint it as a post of it’s own.

And before I forget, you say you weren’t aware of The Illinois Channel? That strikes me as odd as they’ve had a marketing effort to get it carried on cable access across the state, and this is obviously one of the population centers. But it’s also possible that they’re just doing a lousy job of it.

Beyond that, I’ve posted a few separate posts highlighting The Illinois Channel complete with contact information and have urged viewers to contact them to express interest in them coming to the area.

I myself have corresponded with them and they asked for the contact info for the mayor. Of course, we have a new mayor now. Upon enquiring, I found that they usually are carried on cable access channels, thus they would likely have to deal with Mediacom, the City, or both.

To save you the trouble of googling the Illinois channel, you can just go here and find info about the channel. I think it would be great to have it in the area, but then again, I find C-Span to be really exciting TV.

I'm sorry if my carping has offended you. But I guess this is my soapbox, isn't it? You have an entire cable provider, a couple public access channels, and a large and pervasive advertising arm for yours. Sound even?

And you're a businessperson, so you should appreciate this.

Approximately how much are you paying to read this blog? Yet you feel entitled to comment on personal decisions as to how I choose to run it? You question my courage??!!

At least when I bitch about Mediacom, I've paid out thousands of dollars to the company and at least have a standing to bitch.

Hell, maybe you'd have a right to question my courage or decisions if I'd ever noticed you dropping so much as ten cents in the tip jar.

How would you react if I tore into Mediacom and I didn't even subscribe or live in an area Mediacom serves?

I must also object to your false statement above regarding “those of us in business and politics” (That’s a huge group. Do you speak for all of them?? Wow.) and how every last person in business and politics finds it “interesting” that I don’t allow anonymous comments. (I’m in business and I don’t find it interesting in the slightest.)

First of all, your statement is flat out false, and I’m frankly surprised you said it. The fact is that everyone is free to comment anonymously. Perhaps you're not paying attention?

As a matter of fact, you're one of only two or three people who have registered and commented using their actual names. (Since the blog launched last February.) Have you not noticed that every other commenter is anonymous?

If you’re suggesting that requiring commenters to register is somehow not anonymous, you’re mistaken there as well. I have no way to find out the identity of any commenter even if I wanted to. Their identities are less important than what they bring to the table anyway.

Any personal info that people provide when they register is collected by Blogspot for their use and I have no way to access it, nor does anyone else.

I had to require commenters to register with Blogspot as letting anyone and everyone post comments anonymously threw the blog into chaotic anarchy and sunk the level of discussion to practically sub-human levels.

Ask any of the other bloggers who have had to wrestle with this dilemma. I'm far from alone. "Daily Davenport Politics" for one, my counterpart in the Iowa Quad Cities, has instituted the same policy. (and is run by not one, but THREE anonymous bloggers, by the way. You better go question their courage as well. Folow the link in the blogroll.)

I hardly feel that requiring someone to post using one or more made up names of their choice amounts to not allowing anonymous comments.

I've stated my reasons for remaining anonymous exhaustively several times, in comments, in the F.A.Q., in prior posts, and in e-mails to you personally.

And as your comment proves, anyone who disagrees with anything they see here are free to respond and set the record straight if they wish. That's perfectly fair in anyone's book.

But frankly, I'm perplexed by your resentment and attacks on my desire to retain my privacy. What possible difference would it make were I to use my own name? (other than bringing me even more grief than I already have with this thing?) Please explain how would that would be better for anyone? What benefits would it bring to readers or myself?

If anyone takes issue with my views, or if (when) I make a mistake, there's ample opportunity for anyone to say their piece and put things straight. You've taken advantage of that yourself. So what's the problem?

I'm quite surprised that you apparently can't grasp the negatives to "shedding" my anonymity. This is not some executive position where you may have to mouth platitudes from time to time to various groups or speak at a business negotiation or sales meeting.

This is a place that deals in opinions, and not just opinions, political opinions, which by their very nature are very contentious with passions running high on all sides.

It's not announcing a new effort to show community involvement by helping out some charity or arguing for a business deal or pitching a sale. It's not mediating a personnel matter or making a strategic business decision. This is a blog.... not a business. And I don't hold office either, so I don't know why I should be held to the the standards which may apply to those positions.

If you like your political commentary in a less contentious and more easy to digest form, I highly recommend John Beydler's "The Passing Parade" which you can find in my blogroll. He's an excellent journalist and uses his real name. He obviously possesses the courage you desire.

People sometimes attack each other personally in comments here, and I'm attacked and criticized regularly. But at least it's not someone saying "Chester Wackenhut is an insufferable boob, a Satanist who drinks too much, kicks his dog, and leaves his garbage cans out all week."

What I'm saying is people can attack your views or the type of person they imagine you to be here, but they're not able to attack you by name. Personally.

Apparently you're incapable of acknowledging that distinction, or you simply think it's not important. I certainly think it is.

There's personal as in attacking my thoughts, mistakes, or opinions, and then there's personal personal. Introducing that element here is neither necessary, nor wise, in my opinion.

I still fail to see the harm in my remaining anonymous, and I'm at a loss as to why it bothers you so deeply. Why is it that you so desire a name and a person upon which to fix credit or blame?

I recall that at one time you suggested that my ideas should be the thing that matters. Yet they don't seem to be enough for you now. You need a name, an address, a face, an age, a race, a family, a personal history, a neighborhood, a curiculum vitae... all those things people use to judge others. Why is that so important to you?

Aren't those things irrelevant to whatever I do here? If not, I think they should be. Yet you seem to demand that I give you something to work with so you can make it personal. I resent that.

What's the purpose of your deep dissatisfaction with my remaining anonymous? What would you do if I did come out and identify myself? Then ... what? What would people who didn't like what I say or simply wished me ill do then?

Start an investigation? Launch any of the millions of surreptitious schemes that people routinely use to try to take people down a notch, dismiss them, demean them, attempt to shut them up by various means, or punish them or exact revenge one way or another if they don't like what someone says?

Why even open things up to the possibility of that sort of thing happening? What's the purpose? So I can get pushed around by those with money, power, connections, or influence? Thanks, but no thanks.

I don't desire to operate in that backstabbing, gossipy jungle that evidently you (and millions of others) find yourself operating in. The headaches here are numerous as it is. Why would I want to invite more grief and stress if I don't have to?

You suggest you and others (in business and politics) are displaying your characters every day. (I wonder where, I've rarely noticed anyone doing that. Unless you mean bad character.)
I don't know if you resent it and therefore resent that I'm not similarly burdened, or what?

As to your deep concern with my courage or lack of it, I can only say that one man's courage is another man's stupidity. (the same thing applies whenever someone uses "be a man" to urge you to do something. I've learned that it invariably meant doing something absolutely stupid, dangerous, illegal, involving a lot of pain and potentially serious injury, or a combination thereof.)

Am I to understand that you're suggesting that if I choose not to do something akin to walking into the middle of a gang fight between the Latin Kings and Gangster Disciples dressed in khaki shorts and an pink polo shirt that I lack courage?

I'm sure people in your position have courage to spare. Good on ya. You're getting paid very well for it, or at least I certainly hope so. Despite your assessment, I believe I have courage as well.

But don't try to equate your position or anyone else's with mine, because I'm not certain you completely understand what it’s like to run a political blog. As a matter of fact, I’m certain of it.

You should be very careful before making demands that I should be required to operate under the same conventions and strictures as someone in a completely different endeavor.

I would remind you that I'm not making money on any of this. I’d be ecstatic if I broke even, though I’m not counting on it.

I'd really like to know why you think it would be smart move to give up my anonymity, as I have given it a lot of thought, and I can only think of two rather minor advantages, and they're don't come close to balancing the negatives.

It looks like you and your "others" will just have to continue tut-tutting about my appalling lack of "courage."

I'm perfectly content with that, as are the thousands and thousands of other anonymous bloggers out there, including many dealing with Illinois and Iowa politics.

As a matter of fact, I corresponded with one of the most popular Illinois political bloggers, ILPundit, and bemoaned the fact that people were frothing at the mouth attacking me for beign anonymous, expecting that he'd been through it too and would sympathize.

After all, he actually works in Springfield in state politics. Certainly being right in the thick of things in that often paranoid world, being anonymous would be very difficult and everyone would be clammoring to know his identity. His blog has been up for years and gets a huge amount of visitors.

But he replied that he was sorry to hear that I'd gone through such grief, and reported that he'd never had anyone come after him trying to demean him or criticize his for his anonymity. Never. Not once.

Yet in this rather provincial area, some seem to get tied in knots when they can't put a name and face to someone expressing opinions.

I suggest those with a problem with this fact try to learn to deal with it. It's my decision and desire and I'd expect people would simply respect that. Evidently not.

Everyone's free to disagree with me, everyone's free to comment away in complete anonymity.
If people still have a problem, I simply can't help them.

I realize that you wanted to publicly state the facts and refute my crabby statements about Mediacom and the city. And I'm grateful you did, as anything I write here is always subject to be denied, refuted, dispelled, confirmed, argued, or denounced.

That's perfectly fair and as it should be. And it’s that very fairness that undermines anyone's problem with my expressing my views here, and expressing them anonymously.

Maybe it's the fact that this blog is a bit difficult to control or manage in traditional ways (buy 'em off, intimidate them, threaten them, smooze 'em, wine and dine, etc. though flattery still works pretty well.) that is causing you and every single person in business and politics, which you apparently speak for, to be agitated? What could possibly be the reason it's such a big deal to you?

I'm truly curious, as it amazes me that people still accept it. (though I should limit that to you, as you're the only one still expressing dismay, though you claim to represent legions.)

As to your challenge for me to contact you by phone, etc. I fail to see how that’s necessary, as I've already explained my complaints.

I don't see the importance of speaking by phone when we can communicate via e-mail at any time of the day or night. (Thanks to Mediacom)

If you want to have a private discussion about anything, you're certainly aware of the means to do so, and you’re welcome to contact me again at any time.

This is not a one-way street. I'm not simply posting broadsides and denying any opportunity to respond or disagree. (I’ll leave that to Bush or Limbaugh.)

This is my blog after all. Though it's non-profit, it's not a public service, and I reserve the right to make all decisions about it and for it, but I have never denied anyone the opportunity to say whatever they wished, as long as they had a valid point of view and show at least a minimum of intelligence in expressing it, and as long as they didn’t attempt to cause personal harm to someone.

As you can see, your views as to my anonymity and percieved lack of courage really get me going. I am sensitive to the issue, but am firmly convinced that it has nothing whatsoever to do with courage and everything to do with the atmoshere of the blog.

The fact remains that I want to remain free to say things and express views that I wouldn't be able to if I gave up my privacy.

You're free to think I should do things otherwise, and apparently you do, but I feel it's unfair and disrespectful to question my courage or to suggest that remaining anonymous somehow taints the blog. The readers will be the judge of that.

Pay me a good salary and maybe I'll consider putting my name on things. Otherwise, I'm suggest you learn to live with it.

 
At 7/04/2005 10:44 AM, Blogger Scott Westerman said...

http://www.scottwesterman.com/comments.gif

 
At 7/04/2005 1:24 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Thanks Scott. That explains where you got the impression that you couldn't post anonymously.

However, and I'm not certain since I've never tried it, but I think if you try to post with the button checked for "Blogger", it must take you to a page where you can register.
The window in question also contains a link which allows you to sign up with Blogger.

That page is misleading, in that what it refers to is that people can't comment as "anonymous" without registering, but rather must register with Blogspot and pick an anonymous "name" to use when posting.

I how you got confused now.

But you've still not addressed any of the points in my extremely long reply.

(and I now realize my suggestion that since you don't pay for the blog, you shouldn't criticize it is wrong. Anyone who visits here has a right to hold opinions on how the blog is run.

I still find your implication that I lack courage to be insulting and dead wrong.

 

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