City Council, HCTV Agree to End Months of Wrangling

City Councilor Melinda Barrett.

Story updated to reflect comment by School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti.

After months of wrangling, Haverhill city councilors and representatives of Haverhill Community Television (HCTV) largely came to terms Wednesday night.

HCTV came to the council’s Administration and Finance Committee meeting with new bylaws, restoring seats on its board of directors for representatives of the mayor, school committee, library and Northern Essex Community College. The operator of the city’s public access, education and government channels, however, retains veto power of any appointee it does not deem “suitable.” Last fall, HCTV announced a new set of bylaws that removed government appointments to its 13-member board, prompting City Councilor Melinda Barrett to seek a review.

“Nine (9) directors shall be at large and four (4) directors shall be representatives of the following organizations given that a suitable recommendation is presented to the nominating committee…,” the new bylaws read. They were adopted April 8, according to attorney Michael J. Hart. The bylaws are immediately being put to the test with HCTV’s apparent rejection of School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti’s as Superintendent James F. Scully’s appointee to the board. “There are some issues,” Hart said.

Haverhill School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti.

Haverhill School Committeeman Paul A. Magliocchetti.

Hart said there is concern about Magliocchetti’s appointment because he is an elected city official. The school committeeman said another matter involving one of his law office colleagues had been a concern.

“An attorney in my office sent a letter requesting information for an individual, and subsequently sent another letter stating that neither he nor the firm will be representing the individual. That issue has been resolved," Magliocchetti told WHAV today.

HCTV Executive Director Darlene Beal said Haverhill Public Library Director Sarah I. Moser is a likely nominee and Amy Callahan, a Northern Essex Community College professor, would continue her prior appointment.

Stanley W. Colten, Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s board appointment, was told he could no longer serve after last fall’s bylaw change. However, Hart said in January, his review of the bylaws showed Colten had a valid appointment until 2017.

“What happened with Stan really brought it to the forefront. We probably would never have known. We would have never paid any attention to it,” said Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien. Referring to HCTV’s earlier rationale for eliminating government appointments—lack of city appointments, O’Brien said HCTV’s lunchtime board meetings may have discouraged attendance. “People have to be at work.”

HCTV Director of Operations Matt Belfiore opened the discussion by playing a promotional video and telling councilors his group has provided many free extras to the city such as lighting and speakerphone in the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers. Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan responded by reminding HCTV representatives nearly all of its money—about $800,000 a year—comes from a contract negotiated by the city with Comcast cable television and paid by Comcast’s local subscribers.

After the meeting, Hart confirmed former board President Carol Verny of Newburyport was no longer eligible to serve HCTV. “She had to step aside because she doesn’t qualify anymore,” Hart said, noting she no longer works or lives in Haverhill.

3 thoughts on “City Council, HCTV Agree to End Months of Wrangling

  1. What am I missing? Why the mad scramble by people in Haverhill to get a seat on this board? Does an appointment to this board carry with it a pension of some sort once a person steps down?

    What is the mayor spending the 1% he skims off the top off the top of the yearly Comcast fees?