Saturday, March 15, 2008

City administration to investigate possible wrongdoing by CCTV, former Councilor Rogers

The Concord City Council voted on Monday to have the city administration investigate possible wrongdoing by employees of CCTV, now called ConcordTV, as well as former Councilor and 2007 Mayoral candidate, Kathy Rogers.
In a letter to the Council, resident Rick Watrous requested that the Council have the city's administration finish the original investigation he requested, as well as look into Rogers' influence over the proceedings when she was chairwoman of the Rules Committee. Rogers, who has a program on ConcordTV with her pug dog, has been connected to the cable access center since its inception and even remarked that she helped create the channels during her mayoral race.
One charge also remains before the Rules Committee: Whether Doris Ballard used her position as an at-large city councilor to attain a full-time job at CCTV.
"I thank the council for your patience but I believe that important questions remain to be answered," wrote Watrous, who is also the former executive director of CCTV.
Some of those questions include whether or not Rogers violated council rules by chairing the investigation in which she had a personal interest; whether Rogers misinformed the council, concealed, or suppressed evidence, or otherwise misdirected the investigation; whether Rogers withheld evidence concerning her own nonpublic weekend use of the channel's studios; whether Rogers instructed the Concord Police Dept. to investigate Watrous concerning a public document that he submitted to the Rules Committee and whether she violated city charter in this action.
Other questions include whether or not CCTV employees tampered with public or private documents under the investigation by the Rules Committee and whether those employees or board members provided false testimony to the committee; whether CCTV employees provided false information to the police concerning Ballard's employment contract; whether Ballard used her at-large city council position to attain full-time employment at CCTV; and whether the full-time position which Ballard attained - Outreach and Development Director - was ever advertised to the public and if so, how many candidates applied for the position.
At the end of the meeting Monday, Mayor Jim Bouley asked for a motion on the request and sat silently waiting for a response.
Eventually, at-large Councilor Dan St. Hilaire moved for approval [St. Hilaire is also a County Attorney and sat on the Rules Committee during the process].
During the comment phase, Councilor Keith Nyhan, Watrous' Ward Councilor and a former CCTV board member, said he would vote against approval saying the issue has been "beaten to death like a dead horse."
Councilor Candace Bouchard, who is also a state representative on the Heights and replaced Rogers on the council, agreed with Nyhan [Bouchard is also a former CCTV board member].
Ward 2 Councilor William Stetson, a former board member and treasurer for CCTV, moved to table the item indefinitely, a move which was seconded by an identifiable female councilor.
Bouley said while he agreed with the comments that the issue had been beaten to death, he wondered what impression it would give others who had difficult issues to bring up before the council if the request was rejected.
"I find myself in an awkward situation," he said. "What do you do? I would like to see it go away as well ... but who knows in this case."
St. Hilaire said he believed the action should be approved because of the outstanding issue about the conflict of interest issue with Ballard's employment which was tabled by the Rules Committee in 2007.
"Despite what we feel about this issue, there was one item tabled," he said.
Councilor Dick Patten, who has a program on ConcordTV called "Around Town," used the Rule 6 out in order to not give an appearance of a conflict of interest.
The vote to table was then rejected by voice vote.
Nyhan then seconded St. Hilaire's motion, noting that if there was a point of order that was not pursued, it should be dealt with.
The request was then approved by the council by a voice vote.

Sidebar: Interestingly, the second section of the council meeting containing debate over the letter was not posted on the ConcordTV Web site. However, both the first and second sections of the Feb. 11 meeting were posted online. One has to wonder whether this is censorship of that portion of the hearing or just a mistake. An email has been sent to ConcordTV employees to find out why the second section was not posted.

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