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Jan 19

Comcast & More Transparency In Government

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

I had every intention of attending last night’s City Council meeting. They had even posted an agenda ahead of time, so I felt that if I didn’t go, I would be letting them down. To make a long story short, it was cold and I’m too delicate.

But rather than go off and do something fun, I decided to watch the meeting on television. If you’re like me, you are forced to have Comcast cable. Because their rates are always escalating, I feel that if I’m not constantly watching it, I am somehow getting ripped off. Some of my most favorite of all programming is the community access stuff. Last night, for example, they showed 90 solid minutes of how to use your TI-86 graphing calculator. The best channel, however, is good ol’ channel 16 — the local organization channel.

While I do not know all of the details, in an effort to reduce their guilt of repeated price hikes, Comcast is willing to provide a local channel to any municipality that requests it. The only real requirement is that the municipality requesting the channel keeps it updated. This means a marginal working knowledge of Microsoft PowerPoint. Needless to say, I sat on the couch, found channel 16, and was ready to watch the City Council meeting from the comfort of my own home. You can imagine my surprise when what I saw was not the Ypsilanti City Council, but rather that of the Ann Arbor City Council. That’s just insane. Ann Arbor is not where I live. I shouldn’t be subjected to their council and Historic District Commision meetings.

I thought about running down to see the City Council meeting live, but the stuff about the Master Plan for Ann Arbor’s Farmer’s Market just sucked me in. The debate quickly broke down and lines were drawn around a linear Farmer’s Market versus a circular Farmer’s Market. Before fisticuffs broke out, the meeting was adjourned — after five excruciating hours.

What’s the point of this? If a city can adequately operate a web site, it can televise meetings. The lack of interest in City politics is alarming. This might be something that could inspire people to become more involved. It might not be well-received by the status quo, but I believe otherwise. An organization that is willing to be open and honest with its constituents is a good organization. More importantly, it’s just the way Cities operate. Even the small village of Dexter is looking at programming their City Council meetings.

Maria Holmes of Comcast is their Corporate Affairs Manager. She can be reached at:

Maria_Holmes@cable.comcast.com

And she can explain all of the requirements to get a City up and broadcasting in no time. If you do write her, please don’t mention how I badmouthed her company, and if she asks, January’s bill for $276.29 is in the mail.

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