Friday, August 15, 2008

Could it be?????

Did someone at City Hall actually LISTEN to the people?

As you all know, there have been several complaints regarding the cancellation of the City Council meetings on Charter Channel 55. Allegedly due to budget cuts, the 20-some-odd year broadcast is all of a sudden "too expensive" to operate. Personally, I believe the $180,000 cost projected by City Staff is a bit inflated, but that's just my opinion.

It looks like the City Council will get a chance on Tuesday to rethink their stance. On the agenda, the item is coming back on the Tuesday, Aug. 19 meeting.

Maybe then, by the grace of God, the City Council can think of innovative ways to make the cuts WITHOUT taking away the meetings. All you really need is an open mind.

1. Cut down on Discover West Covina! I know its going from monthly to quarterly, but there are other ways to trim, like hmm, I don't know -- only sending it to people who want it! Like, 35,000 of those things go out, but how many of those 35,000 households actually read it? Make receiving it optional. I know what you're thinking, Mr. Herfert, "How will I ever let people know about BLD?...Again and again and again and again?" Well, you're just gonna have to trust somewhere in that $1.3 million we're paying for BLD each year, there's some cash set aside for marketing... Which brings me to item ...

2. Public Information Officer. From what I understand, a Public Information Officer is like the city's spokesperson to the media. I read the paper religiously and I can't remember a time when West Covina's Public Information Officer was quoted. This person could be writing and designing the newsletter, BUT if you look at the newsletter now, and a newsletter from a couple years ago (before the Public Information Officer was hired), you don't really see a difference in design or writing style. I wonder, is the person writing and designing the newsletter now the same person doing it then? If so, why are we wasting money on a Public Information Officer?

OK, if you guys don't want to lay anyone off, even if they've only been around a short time and don't really do anything (seriously, if you are or know the PIO, please let me know what she does and I'll issue a Watcher-style apology), here's another: Broadcast the City Council meetings only. Stop with all the other things, like the Mayor Show, the Planning Commission Meetings, the events, etc.

I'm definitely not being a hater. I do enjoy those things, especially since I -- born in Dodger Blue -- got to see and hear a speech from the great Maury Wills on Channel 55. But to me, those things can wait til things look a bit brighter, fiscally.

Also, on the Leftovers blog, someone suggested having volunteers work the cameras. What a novel concept! Volunteers!!

Maybe the many people expected to go to Tuesday's meeting will have some other ideas. I got an e-mail from a person called only "KWG" and it reads:

"I am not happy with the city turning off the cable broadcast of its meetings.
I would like to encourage everyone to attend the next meeting and voice our displeasure.
Any suggestions on getting the word out?
I have even considered putting this in the Tribune by buying a quarter page or more.
Please let me know your feelings.
I am in no way associated with the city other than being a resident."

I suggested to KWG he write a letter to the editor to the Tribune. Apparently, this cause of getting the meetings back on the air caught its attention. The editorial board agrees: Broadcasting the meetings yields and open government. While other, smaller, cities are broadcasting -- or looking to do it -- the "Hub of the San Gabriel Valley" is shutting it down. That makes no damn sense.

Godspeed, KWG! You have to tell me what happens, considering I won't be able to see it on TV.

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