New Life for Cable Board
Chairman Lamar David Mackson made a presentation to the City Council Monday on goals and recent achievements of the board, which had been languishing in recent years for lack of members. Former chairman Peter Briggs had to step down last summer after a review of rules revealed he was ineligible to serve because he is the mayor's designee and the chairman must be a Class IV citizen member. Among his remarks, Mackson noted three other citizens - Kieran N. Anderson, Lesli Price Hall and Michael C. Allen - are seeking mayoral nomination and council approval to serve. Other members include Plainfield Public Library Director Joe Da Rold, Councilwomen Annie McWilliams and Linda Carter and Board of Education member Patricia Barksdale.
McWilliams and Carter have consistently pushed for revitalization of the board, which is responsible for oversight of local Channel 96 (formerly Channel 74) and interaction with cable providers. In a franchise agreement with Comcast of the Plainfields, the city received two local channels, one for municipal programming and one for education, but the latter has yet to be set up.
On Monday, Mackson named three goals:
- To encourage community participation by providing a public forum for dialogue.
- To provide training and internship programs in an effort to engage our residents.
- To provide quality programming and services to our residents and neighbors.
Among achievements, Mackson named his appointment and identification of the three proposed new members, drafting of policies and procedures, a preliminary agreement between the advisory board and the Plainfield Board of Education for an internship program, establishment of contact with Verizon and a schedule for rollout of PEG (Public Educational Government) access. In addition, a web site is now up at http://pctvab.wordpress.com/
Mackson asked the governing body for reviews of current and past operating budgets for PCTV 96, an inquiry into operating procedures, setup of a franchise fee share agreement, some possible funding support from the city, confirmation of the three new members and more synergy between the advisory board and the city's Media/Station Operations unit.
Residents and council members have voiced many complaints about the local channel and the administration's communications in general, especially the quality of the official city web site. A public information official who managed the media unit left in March and the administration hopes to place the unit under a new technology manager. The title was recently approved by the City Council, but no one has yet been named to the post.
Mackson also offered a timeline for improvements. It is posted on the board's web site (link above).
The board's next meeting is at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 in the conference room at City Hall, 515 Watchung Ave.