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Piece of Mind: When council meetings aren't on TV

September 22, 2010|By Carol Cormaci

The 49ers/Saints game, the season opener of "Dancing with the Stars," or Mayor Don Voss and the La Cañada Flintridge City Council meeting. What were your TV viewing priorities Monday night?

Decisions, decisions. I was planning to settle in early for a game of football (I'm a longtime 49er fan) but arrived home later than expected. Just as I entered the house, the phone rang. I tripped over the one-eyed cat (who was hovering expectantly near his dinner plate) to grab the receiver.

Jim Short, a curmudgeonly thorn in the side of City Hall but generally pleasant to me, was on the line. He wanted to know if we were able to see the city council meeting on our TV. He'd tried to tune in at his home but was seeing what he believed to be a neighboring city's meeting instead.

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I moved into the den, phone still in hand, to turn on our TV. I pushed "03" on the remote control and was soon watching Capt. Dave Silversparre, commander of our local sheriff's station, give his monthly public-safety report to our council.

Jim said that according to the Charter Communications channel line-up guide, he should have been able to tune into Channel 16 to see our council in action, but instead he was seeing an officer in a blue uniform talking to another city council, which he took to be Glendale's or Burbank's. I vaguely remembered having read that Charter was shifting around its lineup this summer, so I asked if he'd tried Channel 3. He switched channels and described what he was seeing on his screen: the affable Huell Howser touting one of California's golden locales.

At Jim's request, I agreed to check with City Hall to find out why some households could watch the council meeting live Monday while others couldn't. And so on Tuesday I spoke to City Manager Mark Alexander, senior management analyst Carl Alameda and Peter Castro, who as public-safety coordinator, also monitors the cable broadcasting system via the control room adjacent to council chambers.

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