Friday, June 27, 2008

Minister of Information Control

Chair Richard Drake has sent a letter on behalf of the Fayetteville Telecommunications Board to Mayor Coody and the City Council. It appears to be a finding of fact and a complaint that two issue forums that had already been approved for production on the Fayetteville Government Channel were "unceremoniously yanked from the planning stages" and vetoed by Dr. Susan Thomas, PhD, the mayor's public relations and policy advisor. At its June meeting, the Board voted unanimously to urge the City Council "to allow these two forums to take place."

One of the issue forums dealt with the future of Fayetteville High School, and the other was to deal with the future of the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. Both are timely issues of public concern, and both were requested by Alderman Nancy Allen in accordance with the existing Government Channel policies adopted by the City Council in 2006.

Ignoring the city policy and acting on the assumed authority of the Mayor to do whatever he wants regardless of law and policy, Dr. Thomas canceled both of the programs requested by Alderman Allen. Is Mayor Coody afraid that these public forums might limit his ribbon cutting ceremony replays to showing only once a day? Is he afraid that someone might inquire about why he has done nothing about the almost certain moving of the Walton Arts Center to Benton County? Is it just a petty grudge against Alderman Allen who asked him to explain the sewer plant debacle?

I suppose it doesn't matter. The Telecommunications Board has no power. The cable administrator was fired and has not been replaced. If the Council took action on the policy, the Mayor would veto it and Gray-Thiel-Rhoads would vote to sustain. Dr. Thomas will not be reprimanded. And we will still get to see Dan's press conferences and self-promotions on the Government Channel every day.

Coody has not been held accountable for much worse transgressions of the public trust, so what's one more insult to the public?

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