Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cat Fight

Will this bickering never end? Last May, as a part of the "reorganization" of the Government Channel, Dan Coody directed Dr. Susan Thomas PhD to fire Cable Administrator Marvin Hilton and have him escorted from his office by an armed police officer, thus ending his 13-year career.

Then in June, Hilton, who has a degree in communications from the University of Kansas and 20 years experience in public access programming, was the only applicant for a volunteer citizen position on the Telecommunications Board. The City Council Nominating Committee rejected his application, because, said Alderman Adella Gray, "We just didn’t feel like it was a good fit."

The Telecommunications Board position remained vacant for three months until September 16th, when Alderman Kyle Cook brought forward the nomination of Marvin Hilton, and the City Council unanimously approved it. Mayor Coody has not yet announced whether he will veto the appointment, like he did Planning Commissioner Candy Clark, but Hilton's name appears as a member of the Telecommunications Board on the city's website.

Now comes a broadside attack on Hilton, we have been informed, from Sky Blalock, Manager of Community Access Television, just days before the Telecommunications Board Sub-Committee meets on Monday to discuss the C.A.T. contract renewal. Reportedly, Blaylock sent out an email attack complaining about Hilton's appointment and trying to generate a campaign to have the Mayor and City Council reconsider the appointment, suggesting that they would be receptive to pressure during their own election campaigns. Blaylock was said to claim that she had extensive documentation and depositions that prove Hilton was a loser and would complicate the contract renewal process.

Bad timing for all involved, and it is unclear whether the purge campaign was approved by the C.A.T. Board. Picking a fight with a member of the Telecommunications Board during contract renewal discussions is poorly considered politics. I don't know Hilton or Blaylock, but this move could present a strong challenge to the Coody-Thomas evisceration and capture of the Government Channel for the annual Bonehead Bouquet.

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