The 1984 Cable Communications Policy Act permitted municipalities to require cable operators to reserve channels for public, educational and government use.
Charter Communications reserved channel 8 for Brainerd's public access use, yet city officials have avoided opening council meetings to the public via live transmission into the comfort of their homes.
Matt Taylor decided to videotape the meetings and edit each one to a 30-minute program, then broadcast them Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Bravo!
The Jan. 3 Dispatch reported, "Taylor received a few laughs when he said consideration was given to airing the entire meeting."
Who laughed at him? This is a serious issue.
Brainerd city officials have three options: have a family member or friend volunteer to videotape every city meeting -- with the camcorder clock running the entire time, so viewers will know the tape wasn't edited; conduct all meetings at Charter's studio for live broadcast; or equip City Hall to broadcast meetings there live.
Every cable subscriber pays a "franchise fee" when they pay their bill every month. According to Brainerd's finance director, Charter paid the city $55,523 in franchised fees last year for 1999 cable operations -- and $49,500 the year before.
Even though the city has a legal right to put that money into its "General Fund" and use it for anything it wants, many cities have used that money to equip their council meeting rooms for live broadcasts for their residents, plus state-of-the-art studio equipment for public use.
Let's have action. Remember, the city has three viable options to finally bring the "sunshine" into citizens' homes. And Taylor, either way, don't put your camera away.
James Madison said it very well 200-some years ago, "A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or Tragedy; or both."
Preserve lakeshore value
Recent legislation has exposed inland lakes in Minnesota to removal of sunken logs for profit, by repealing a 1907 law. Prior to the new legislation, removal of sunken logs for profit did not take place in Minnesota. Although the previous law was due for an update, the new legislation does not define ecological criteria for the protection of the environment. Although ecological criterion has not yet been defined by the DNR either proceedings have already begun for permits on Gull Lake, Hill Lake and Lake Plantagenet. With Minnesota Department of Health Fish Consumption Advisories on Minnesota lakes and an alarming rate of increase in mercury as it is, the implications of disturbance to lake bottoms could be immense. As it is now, the law requires no testing or monitoring except as instructed by the DNR, no enforcement, no log limits, and provides no additional funding. The DNR has offered to help sponsor limited, short-term testing, but funding will have to come from within their own limited budget. One-time removal of sunken logs should not be compared with our long-term, renewable logging industry. The short-term, speculated benefits to a handful of people simply cannot outweigh the risks involved for our long-term tourism related industries, the money people have already spent on upgrading lakeshore property, and the overall risks to the environment.
The Gull Area Lake Association has voted to support this legislation as it is, in spite of many shortcomings within the law and warnings from the PCA. We urge you to read the law yourself (Ch. 337 -- s.f. No. 2546, 2000) and contact your local lawmaker with your concerns. Until this activity can be proven, without doubt, to cause no adverse effects to the quality of our lakes, it is our responsibility to prohibit log removal for profit.
Lake Plantagenet Landowner's Association
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