Cable TV deal expected soon; Federal law limits negotiations.Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos
COLUMN: CITY HALL NOTEBOOK
The word out of City Hall is that the city has finally wrapped up its protracted pro·tract
tr.v. pro·tract·ed, pro·tract·ing, pro·tracts
1. To draw out or lengthen in time; prolong: disputants who needlessly protracted the negotiations.
2. negotiations with Charter Communications Charter Communications NASDAQ: CHTR is an American company providing cable television, high-speed Internet, and telephone services to more than 5.7 million customers in 29 states. It is the third-largest publicly traded cable operator in the U.S. on a new cable television deal.
While unable to discuss the specifics quite yet, City Manager Michael V
Michael V the Caulker or Kalaphates (Greek: Μιχαήλ Ε΄ Καλαφάτης, . O'Brien said he expects to submit the agreement to the City Council for its information tomorrow night. Council approval of the deal is not needed under the city charter.
James Baller, a consultant hired by the city to assist in its negotiations with Charter, said he believes the new cable deal will prove to be good for the city and cable subscribers.
"It's been a difficult year for cities across the country regarding their relationships with cable companies," Mr. Baller said in an interview Friday. "Because cable companies are facing increasing competition from other companies, they've become extremely cost conscious. They're watching every penny and they're pulling back on capital funding they have provided in the past for public access, government channels and institutional networks.
"For a city its size, I think Worcester has gotten a good deal," he added. "The city will be in a position where it will be able to control its own destiny in the future."
Charter's previous 10-year contract with the city expired in January 2007. It was extended six months to July 7 and then when city officials failed to complete
a new contract before that date, it was extended another six months.
City councilors have grown antsy ant·sy
adj. ant·si·er, ant·si·est Slang
1. Restless or impatient; fidgety: The long wait made the children antsy.
2. about the protracted cable negotiations, and several have even urged the city manager to limit the length of the next contract to no more than five years.
Mr. O'Brien said the city is limited to what it can negotiate in the cable contract. He said federal law requires the city to negotiate a renewal contract with Charter, as long as the cable company has the financial and technical wherewithal where·with·al
The necessary means, especially financial means: didn't have the wherewithal to survive an economic downturn.
Wherewith. to run the cable system.
He added that Charter does not have an exclusive contract for the local cable franchise. He said additional cable providers also can provide service in the city, but having more than one cable provider is dictated dic·tate
v. dic·tat·ed, dic·tat·ing, dic·tates
1. To say or read aloud to be recorded or written by another: dictate a letter.
a. by market conditions.
"There's a lot of misconception mis·con·cep·tion
A mistaken thought, idea, or notion; a misunderstanding: had many misconceptions about the new tax program. out there about what we can and cannot do in our cable contract," Mr. O'Brien said. "The bottom line is that unless Charter is not capable of operating a cable system, we are required to negotiate a contract renewal with them. In the contract, we can negotiate its term. We can also negotiate the franchise fee (up to 5 percent of gross cable revenues), and we can negotiate customer service requirements and capital funding for public access and government channels.
"We cannot negotiate rates or programming, however," the manager added. "The basic cable rates are set by the state, not the city, and we have absolutely no control over what programming is carried on the cable system."
Councilor-at-Large Joseph M. Petty Petty
girl airbrushed beauty, scantily clad in Esquire’s pages. [Am. Lit.: Misc.]
See : Sex Symbols , chairman of the council's Public Service and Transportation Committee, said he is pleased that the new cable deal has finally been hammered ham·mered
1. Shaped or worked with a metalworker's hammer and often showing the marks of these tools: a bowl of hammered brass.
2. Slang Drunk or intoxicated.
Adj. out. It was at Mr. Petty's urging that the city hired a consultant to assist in the negotiations.
"I think having an expert in the cable field on board really helped the city in this process," Mr. Petty said. "One of the big keys in the next contract will be the build-out of our institutional network. That will be huge because upgrading that system can provide us with a great resource for future economic development."
Even before the snow of this past weekend, the city's snow-removal account already had exceeded its $2 million budget by about $2.5 million.
Robert L. Moylan Jr., commissioner of public works The Commissioner of Public Works heads one of the departments in those local governments in New Jersey that operate under the Walsh Act form of municipal governance. This is a standalone position in Walsh Act municipalities with a five-member commission. and parks, said $4.5 million has been spent on 22 storms that had dropped 59.9 inches of snow in Worcester. The typical median snowfall in Worcester is 65 inches.
City officials expect the snow-removal deficit to swell even more, given the fact that it's still just the beginning of March.
"This deficit of $2.5 million or more will prove more than a challenge as we look to close and balance our books for fiscal year 2008 by June 30," said City Manager Michael V. O'Brien. "State law allows cities and towns to carry over this deficit to the next fiscal year. Clearly, this would place even further burden on the city's current projected deficit for fiscal 2009 of more than $5 million."
The manager said he is working closely with Thomas F. Zidelis, the city's chief financial officer, and members of his cabinet to pursue all possible solutions to resolve the snow removal deficit this fiscal year so it does not have to be carried over into next year."
The city had traditionally allocated $1.171 million annually for snow and ice removal, but because that always proved to be woefully woe·ful also wo·ful
1. Affected by or full of woe; mournful.
2. Causing or involving woe.
3. Deplorably bad or wretched: inadequate, efforts have been made in recent years to fund the account more realistically.
The move to rename Re`name´
v. t. 1. To give a new name to.
Verb 1. rename - assign a new name to; "Many streets in the former East Germany were renamed in 1990" part of Southbridge Street, from Main Street to Myrtle Street, and the mini-park at Main and Southbridge streets after Francis R. Carroll, has picked up tremendous support from a host of politicians.
Among those who have written letters in support of the renaming are: U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass.; U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester; Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray; state Sens. Edward M. Augustus Jr., Harriette L. Chandler Chandler, city (1990 pop. 90,533), Maricopa co., S central Ariz., in the Salt River valley; inc. 1920. It is both a residential community and a center for research and technology. Tourism is also important, and the San Marcos Golf Resort is in Chandler. , both Worcester Democrats, and Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre; as well as state Reps. Vincent A. Pedone, John J. Binienda, Robert P. Spellane, John P. Fresolo, all D-Worcester, James J. O'Day, D-West Boylston, and Karyn E. Polito, R-Shrewsbury.
The City Council Public Works public works
Construction projects, such as highways or dams, financed by public funds and constructed by a government for the benefit or use of the general public.
Noun 1. Committee is scheduled to take up the petition - which was initiated by Councilor-at-Large Joseph M. Petty and co-sponsored by all 11 city councilors - at its meeting tonight.
Mr. Carroll is a local business and civic leader, who has been recognized for his longtime long·time
Having existed or persisted for a long time: a longtime friend; a longtime resident of Detroit.
Adjective commitment to the city and to veterans' issues.