Councilors React with Fury to HCTV’s No Show at Meeting

Haverhill City Councilor Colin F. LePage, chairman, Administration and Finance Committee.

Haverhill City Councilor Colin F. LePage, chairman, Administration and Finance Committee.

Haverhill city councilors expressed frustration Thursday night when all but one representative of Haverhill Community Television failed to show at a planned fact-finding meeting.

Stanley W. Colten, who was nearly ousted in a failed board coup last fall, delivered copies of bylaws to the council’s Administration and Finance Committee. Councilor Michael S. McGonagle said a review of the bylaws is not enough.

“We asked for several things. That’s why I feel cheated,” he said. Councilors said they will try again April 22.

At the request of Councilor Melinda Barrett, councilors are pushing for the restoration of board positions for the city, school department, library and Northern Essex Community College. School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti is seeking a seat as the schools’ representative.

“Most of these cable companies actually have everything online. They have bylaws, they have minutes—it’s all on their website. I don’t understand the shroud of secrecy here,” Magliocchetti said.

Committee Chairman Colin F. LePage said he learned Friday HCTV, operators of Comcast channels 22 and 99, would not attend the meeting. He said, however, he plans to attend the group’s own board meeting next week.

Mary O’Neill, former HCTV director of special media production and public relations.

Mary O’Neill, former HCTV director of special media production and public relations.

A number of residents attended in support of Mary O’Neill who was inexplicably laid off last August from her post as director of special media production and public relations at the TV station. Councilor Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien said it was the firing of O’Neil and attempted ouster of Colten that first caused concern.

“When questions started being asked, all of a sudden, they had these vacancies and nobody did anything to fill them. Well, did you tell anybody? I didn’t know,” she said.

Resident Robert Roche asked councilors, “Don’t you all feel a little disrespected nobody showed up?”

City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. explained HCTV’s funding. Until 2009, he said, the group received the full five percent of Comcast’s gross Haverhill revenues. With a new Comcast contract with the city, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini allocated four percent to HCTV and one percent to the city. In addition, added Magliocchetti, HCTV was required to pay back the city $400,000 a year for three years for past excesses.

8 thoughts on “Councilors React with Fury to HCTV’s No Show at Meeting

  1. i believe the issue is are they representing the coo unit well. The board should be diverse, open, transparent and makes sense that it includes city and school reps because they are producing city and school shows. Staff is great. Is boars controlled by administrator and if so that’s bad for HCTV. Can you find directors names anywhere online? I tried to do when I wanted to ask about something. Couldn’t find a thing. Then I asked the mayor. He didn’t know where to find it either. That’s not good. It is a publicly funded org and may even be tax exempt.

  2. Public access is set up the same in every city, the catv company funds the access stations. Think of it as a local PBS, it’s a public station set up to serve the city. They broadcast government meetings, do documentaries, sports, etc… that no other station would do. No offense to our city government but I doubt the advertising rate on a council meeting would generate much income for a private company. I’m joking to make my point but that’s what HCTV does, produce shows of local interest for the community that would not be created by anyone else.
    This is all deja vu to me, I remember when HCTV moved to their current location and someone on the advisory board was all upset that he didn’t get a private tour and invitation to view the building. Funding was put into question, chests were beaten and thumped, and nothing came of it. That person is long gone and HCTV is thriving.

  3. I am curious as to why the council felt the HCTV folks HAD to honor their request. Who has the control over this entity ? They get their money from OUR subscriptions I believe. How is this set up, when was it set up, and why is it set up that way ? Most people have no clue as to these answers. They DESERVE the answers and to know how their money is spent. Maybe WHAV can do a story on all of this ?

    Why did the Mayor take that 1% ? How was he able to do it ? Why only 1%, why not 2% ? Where did that money go ? Can the city “defund ” them in the next contract and set up another CTV ? Maybe this is why Verizon decided NOT to come to Haverhill many years ago ? Hmmmmm…..

  4. So they cut their budget this year and then cut it retroactively? That’s what I’m reading into “past excesses”. It sounds like some folks in government want to control the public access station, so let me say it in caps, PUBLIC ACCESS. To me that means a board of directors not guaranteed to be a majority of city government employees, the board of directors will certainly serve the cities interests, but they should not be a bunch of crony appointees. Does any other city have a public access station as professional as Haverhill’s? Not that I’ve seen. They do a tremendous job, time lapses of construction projects, city meetings, live parade coverage, live sporting events.
    HCTV is there to serve the people of Haverhill, not just the politicians who want to use it to improve their public images and further their careers.

    • They’re really not doing more than any other cable access organization of comparable size and budget.Take a closer look at surrounding communities. Sometimes a litttle “nudge” is good to remind you of your purpose.

  5. Like all things small town, this is a typical small town nit picking, back biting exercise. I really find it interesting that the Mayor has squeezed 1% for the city???????????? Just what does that mean? Slush fun money, general expense money, special projects money? God politics is just such a dirty word and an even dirtier profession.