Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Bill said: We're not done -- but you've been fired! My Cable TV rant.

A C-SPAN for city governement. A nobel idea that wasn't done. Yes, we need an open governement system. I was ranting about that element within the ICA plans months ago as soon as it was in the released plan. December 31, 2004 came and a deal didn't. The city's cable TV department has been chopped. Three are out of work. Some remained.

Bill Peduto went on and on and needed to thank City Council at the end of the meeting. He mentioned that everyone got together and tried to make it happen. But Bill, it didn't happen. Mayor Murphy got personally involved.

Others in the administration, Rodney A., and Dale P., really tried to keep the department whole. Sure.

Theme: Whole not holistic.

We do need to struggle to get the cable TV department to function well and in the best interest of the residents. But, when you can't advance an agenda that makes so much sense, you all need to look in the mirror. More effort. More sweat. More heavy lifting.

Not only did I rant about the melting cable TV department months ago, but I tried to help. I nudged PCTV into the fray. On another front, I called Penn State University. I got PSU interested in the city's Request for Proposals. That was mandated by the oversight board. I talked to PSU officials and they were interested in getting a tour of the station and facilities. TV folks at PSU wanted to meet with the present employees. They had technical people that were going to come from State College. This was all on less than a week notice too.

I called dozens of others beyond PSU, from private operators to others. But, most wouldn't want to waste their time after hearing of the opportunity. Talk is cheap. But partnerships with real equity and investment with Pittsburgh's public leadership is just too risky and insane.

The city's RFP wasn't well advertised. It wasn't part of a press release. It was mentioned within the city's web site, but again, more advance PR was needed.

Here is another problem with the city-owned and operated cable TV department. KDKA TV doesn't care. The commercial broadcasters might find themselves at odds with the public / government station efforts. News at 11, I won't hold my breath. The diss-connect widens.

So, Penn State calls, wants to help, wants to do the discovery and due diligence. Guess what. PSU is denied. They are told "NO." The city officials won't grant them a tour. Can't says the mayor's crew. They really know how to apply the brakes.

That's execution. That's the shaft. That's the blame.

Furthermore, I (Mark Rauterkus) kept my nose out of the process as best I could when it came to dealing with Tom Murphy's administration. I didn't taint the dealings. I could only instigate efforts and bring people knocking to the door of the mayor's office. But, the door slamming in the face was for others who get city pay checks to do.

The act of entertaining the private bids as part of the RFP to operate the staion was nothing but a joke. The private sector didn't fail -- but -- the bosses in the city did. The employees didn't fail either. But, more could have been done. More still needs to be done.

Where are those public notes? Twanda Carlisle of City Council went to meet with Dr. John Thompson, Superintendent of Pgh Public Schools. She was flanked by three employees. They gave a great presentation that won over the support of Dr. T right away. Where is that presentation? Put it on line.

You say that the deal is off -- for now. Well, now is the time to redouble the efforts to have OPEN Government in the planning stages. There were too many things going on behind closed doors. How ironic as we need the telivision to shine the light on the meetings -- but we have to fight the fight in the darkness.

Here is an idea -- do a TV show on the TV station. Put the interview with Dr. T and the city council member and the three employees -- on TV. Let's all watch.

It took six years to merge 911 servies among the city and the county. I dare say it is going to take years to do TV and media services. And, for something complicated like EMS -- decades.

Pittsburgh is dead in the water and the ring-leader Bill Peduto is heaping praise and high tanks for jobs that are incomplete. Thanks for floundering. Folly and failures leave us empty.

My tough love suggestion to you today -- hold the next meetings in the studios with a live TV stream. Start by getting Dr. Thompson to the front of the camera. Let's here what his offer was and is. Where are those letters. Back track. Publish. Be open yourself.

This is a time for reflection. The image isn't good. To move forward, you have to be honest about where you've been.

Dan Onorato seems to be the fall guy. But, when I talked to County Council's Brenda Fraiser -- back before Labor Day -- she was a "NO." She knew what was what. She wasn't willing to support the program. Dan Onorato knows about the cable TV operation as he has been on city council. He knows how things operate. He sees the blatent self-serving, self-promotion and lack of objectivity in the extra programming that runs on the cable station.

It is a bad show to see the continual replays of Gov. Ed Rendell standing next to Tom Murphy with a three-foot cardboard check for state handouts (pork) about Frick at Sommerset. Then Rendell says he has not heard of ANYONE -- and he stresses N0BODY -- who has lost faith in Pittsburgh. Nobody is pulling up stakes he said. Nobody has tossed in the towel -- his words. He's standing on a slag dump for subsidized rich housing. He's not getting around. Gov Rendell is telling me he is out of touch.

I expect to see the miss-placed priorities from Tom Murphy. But, it rots the mission and the purpose of the cable TV division when they are run like a rented mule as a toy of the administration. Watching the state-sponsored TV in China is quite a bit like watching the staged city cable TV shows in Pittsburgh.

That, for what its worth, Bill P., is NOT what happens at C-Span. To have that C-Span vision, you'd have to leave something behind. What is trash in the present and recent past needs to be jetisoned. Call it what it is. Build up an ounce of respect and trustworthyness. Sanction the slop and NUKE it from the air. Be critical when needed -- and the needed times are frequent if not continual.

Dan Onorato does not want to play the role of a sucker and BAIL OUT the city's cable TV department. An expansion of same old same old is just more pain in the future.

To move this forward, as I hope it goes, you need to offer a self-study that is critical of where you've been. These workers might be brilliant -- but the outcome has been a lot of brilliant and trashy spin in un-objective programming.

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