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> City wants to combine public TV channels, Opponents contend mayor, BOW trampling First Amendment
JHeath
post Sep 3 2008, 09:15 AM
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This was all over WIMS this morning. Lots of folks kept calling, emailing, and text messaging their opinions on this specific topic. So many, in fact, that they were barely able to cover the rest of the news. A few people wondered how publicly the notice and agenda were posted, others were just plain appalled that this would happen without public input. I wonder if someone out there will check the ordinance to make sure this was all done correctly.

http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=40463.92
QUOTE
9/3/2008 11:00:00 AM
City wants to combine public TV channels
Opponents contend mayor, BOW trampling First Amendment.

Rick Richards
City Editor, The News-Dispatch

MICHIGAN CITY - An agreement to combine the operations of public access Channel 99 and government Channel 97 on local cable television was passed unanimously by the Board of Public Works and Safety on Monday.

That vote happened even though four local producers objected to the idea.

Mayor Chuck Oberlie, who sits as a member of the Board of Works, said the reason behind the agreement was to create an orderly schedule of live broadcasts of government meetings.

The proposal came from a recommendation from Bart Lombard, whose company, Access La Porte County, operates the government channel. He said the channel was at capacity for broadcasting live government meetings and suggested combining the two channels as a way to bring a more orderly schedule to those broadcasts.

"In no way was this suggestion made to keep anyone off the air," Lombard said.

Al Austin, producer of the program "News and Views," disagreed, saying the change appeared to be an effort to silence critics of the Democratic Party and of Oberlie.

Austin, who said it would be a disservice to the community if his program was eliminated, asked the Board of Works to take the matter under advisement and discuss it with the City Council before voting.

Dennis Metheny, the Democratic trustee for Coolspring Township and producer of the program, "Time to Blow the Whistle," disagreed with the proposal, saying it was nothing more than an infringement on his right of free speech.

"I don't know what this is about," Metheny said. "It appears to be more about control than public access."

Metheny, whose program has been on the air for "12 years and eight months," questioned whether the Board of Works was "upholding the Constitution and freedom of speech."

Also speaking against the proposal were producer William Landing and producer Glen Wilson.

Oberlie said the change is needed because the public access channel now exists "without management." The goal, he said, is to give a priority to airing all government meetings live. He also pointed out that Channel 97 is operated by La Porte County and Channel 99 is operated by Michigan City.

"The big complaint we have is the lack of a schedule to know when meetings are being broadcast," Oberlie said. "There is nothing in this agreement that precludes any of this local programming from taking place."

Austin, however, disagreed, saying that if Michigan City was involved in managing the channels, it could be involved with dictating what kind of programming it would allow.
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Southsider2k12
post Sep 3 2008, 09:29 AM
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Sounds like the same old thing that has been happening in MC for a while now... They are trying to consolidate their power base and silence their critics. Area by area this group is taking over what you see and here.
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Southsider2k12
post Sep 3 2008, 11:27 AM
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I've looked up the members of the MC Board of Public Works & Safety. The 4 members are Chuck Oberlie., John Schaeffer (City Controller), John Espar (Board Atty.), and Tony Metzcus (who was appointed by the Mayor, and has no term expiration date).
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Roger Kaputnik
post Sep 3 2008, 11:30 AM
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As you know, I have been on my hind feet about this for a long, long time. The little "incestuous" group is in office and/or has big input behind the scenes, and decisions are made with the public discussion just for show. The FIRST step is to get rid of incumbents, starting with the mayor. He has had too much influence and it has not been to the benefit of the City and area.


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Southsider2k12
post Sep 3 2008, 01:07 PM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=54470.73

QUOTE
Don't fear free speech
Political discourse is important to our free society. All voices, even though different, even though difficult to swallow, must not be silenced. Using one's partisan power to censor opinions only nourishes hopelessness and anger, and results in a desire for an avowed hostility toward government in general.

Let people speak. There is nothing to fear.

Jeff Stepanek

Michigan City
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Southsider2k12
post Sep 4 2008, 07:06 AM
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This concept has been bothering me the more than I think about it, and maybe I am missing something... Bart Lombard said he was at capacity for running government meetings on TV, so combining his programming with someone else's is going to free up space to run all meetings live? How the heck does that work? That is counter-logical as far as I can tell. Having the two stations work together to air things, and keep set schedules would be the ideal set up so that there are two chances to air something instead of just one. It would also keep more space for unique programming.
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edgeywood
post Sep 4 2008, 12:34 PM
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I have to agree with everyone. This is part two of the ploy to silence any independent commentary. It started when Oberlie gave the public access to ALCO. (Someone refresh my memory, it was run by another entity who had a studio on Franklin St.)

ALCO - Bart Lombard, Past President and Director of Operations, Stephanie Oberlie, Ex-Officio Board Member
ALCO Web Page

The trend here is less local news. The News-Dispatch covers less local news now and also seems disinclined to tackle any of this in depth. Their reporting is cursory, no follow-ups... WIMS has no community issue coverage to speak of, they rely on the News-Dispatch and listeners to report anything beyond the police blotter and associated mayhem. WEFM does a credible job of covering local issues, but hey...Ron Miller can't be everywhere.

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Roger Kaputnik
post Sep 4 2008, 12:40 PM
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WeFM generally sounds like they read the press releases and call it news. They are not the only place that does that, of course, but what MC really needs is real reporting or fed investigators.


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JHeath
post Sep 4 2008, 01:09 PM
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QUOTE(edgeywood @ Sep 4 2008, 01:34 PM) *

... WIMS has no community issue coverage to speak of, they rely on the News-Dispatch and listeners to report anything beyond the police blotter and associated mayhem. WEFM does a credible job of covering local issues, but hey...Ron Miller can't be everywhere.

Wait a minute, I think WIMS does a great job with local coverage. Most media outlets rely on various news sources (PR reps, people who witness various events, etc...) to help them gain access to whatever is going on. Then they report it all back to us.

I, for one, appreciate all that Ric, Johnny, and the rest of the staff over there allow and encourage the public input. I think as time goes on, they'll be the better local station. They're a progressive, forward thinking group--and that's something we need more of around MC.
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Michelle
post Sep 4 2008, 07:55 PM
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Public access TV? Did I accidentally set the DeLorean to go back to 1985 when that was pertinent?

j/k...but I seriously didn't know that it was still around and watched. What a weird way to pass along information in this age.

Shuttering any source of local news, as lame as it might be, seems like a bad idea though.
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edgeywood
post Sep 4 2008, 08:05 PM
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QUOTE(JHeath @ Sep 4 2008, 02:09 PM) *

Wait a minute, I think WIMS does a great job with local coverage. Most media outlets rely on various news sources (PR reps, people who witness various events, etc...) to help them gain access to whatever is going on. Then they report it all back to us.

I, for one, appreciate all that Ric, Johnny, and the rest of the staff over there allow and encourage the public input. I think as time goes on, they'll be the better local station. They're a progressive, forward thinking group--and that's something we need more of around MC.


Don't get me wrong. I appreciate and support WIMS, but they do not cover city or county board meetings. I could do with less police reports.

I hope they do build a news organization. I've heard Ric mention the possibility of more stations. It would be great to have a regional group that really covered LaPorte county. Sunshine is the best disinfectant!
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Southsider2k12
post Sep 5 2008, 06:17 AM
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QUOTE(Michelle @ Sep 4 2008, 08:55 PM) *

Public access TV? Did I accidentally set the DeLorean to go back to 1985 when that was pertinent?

j/k...but I seriously didn't know that it was still around and watched. What a weird way to pass along information in this age.

Shuttering any source of local news, as lame as it might be, seems like a bad idea though.


In MC, it is a real source of alternative information. The one that really stands out is Dennis Metheny. Love him or hate him, he is one of the best investigative reporters in LPC. He goes and gets whatever information he can get. I usually don't agree with the conclusions he comes up with, but the guy goes and gets the facts. For example, he is the only news source in MC I have heard who went and got Michael Hardings contract through FOIA and went bulletpoint by bulletpoint over the details of what he got paid, his benefits, and the other details. There are a significant amount of people who watch these shows in MC.
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Roger Kaputnik
post Sep 5 2008, 12:55 PM
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Not a big fan of Metheney's personality, but a fan of his when it comes to a)how he handles the trustee's office, and b)how he gets the facts.


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edgeywood
post Sep 5 2008, 01:30 PM
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QUOTE(Roger Kaputnik @ Sep 5 2008, 01:55 PM) *

Not a big fan of Metheney's personality, but a fan of his when it comes to a)how he handles the trustee's office, and b)how he gets the facts.


Agreed. I also like News and Views...wish it was back on the radio. It was broadcast on WEFM for a time.
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lovethiscity
post Sep 5 2008, 07:58 PM
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QUOTE(edgeywood @ Sep 4 2008, 01:34 PM) *

I have to agree with everyone. This is part two of the ploy to silence any independent commentary. It started when Oberlie gave the public access to ALCO. (Someone refresh my memory, it was run by another entity who had a studio on Franklin St.)

ALCO - Bart Lombard, Past President and Director of Operations, Stephanie Oberlie, Ex-Officio Board Member
ALCO Web Page

The trend here is less local news. The News-Dispatch covers less local news now and also seems disinclined to tackle any of this in depth. Their reporting is cursory, no follow-ups... WIMS has no community issue coverage to speak of, they rely on the News-Dispatch and listeners to report anything beyond the police blotter and associated mayhem. WEFM does a credible job of covering local issues, but hey...Ron Miller can't be everywhere.

wow from what I understand, Stephanie Oberlie does not even live in the County
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JHeath
post Sep 5 2008, 09:48 PM
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QUOTE
...WEFM does a credible job of covering local issues, but hey...Ron Miller can't be everywhere.

Really? I mean, I like Ron and all, but some of what he reports sounds more like an editorial than actual news. Plus, he also gets a lot of info from the local papers. Otherwise, it's press releases that people have sent that he sometimes follows up on.
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edgeywood
post Sep 6 2008, 02:17 PM
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QUOTE(lovethiscity @ Sep 5 2008, 08:58 PM) *

wow from what I understand, Stephanie Oberlie does not even live in the County


She's ex-officio so she must serve based on another position...
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edgeywood
post Sep 6 2008, 02:29 PM
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QUOTE(JHeath @ Sep 5 2008, 10:48 PM) *

Really? I mean, I like Ron and all, but some of what he reports sounds more like an editorial than actual news. Plus, he also gets a lot of info from the local papers. Otherwise, it's press releases that people have sent that he sometimes follows up on.


I don't like when he (or any newsperson) injects their view, but he does show up at the various meetings.

The news organization should be separate from the commercial side to prevent conflicts of interest. Small stations don't have the luxury of big staffs.

Trouble is that good news coverage is expensive. But in this market it's a huge differentiator. You can get all the Chicago stations and get a wide variety of programming. Local stations can't compete with that, but they can compete if they offer local news and info.
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Dave
post Sep 7 2008, 11:52 AM
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QUOTE(lovethiscity @ Sep 5 2008, 08:58 PM) *

wow from what I understand, Stephanie Oberlie does not even live in the County


Ex-Officio Board member? What office does Stephanie Oberlie currrently hold that would put her on this board?

from wiki:

QUOTE
ex-officio:
By virtue of office or position; 'by right of office'. Often used when someone holds one position by virtue of holding another. A common misconception is that ex officio members of a committee or congress may not vote, but this is not guaranteed by that title.

The Vice President of the United States is ex officio President of the United States Senate.


This post has been edited by Dave: Sep 7 2008, 11:58 AM
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Roger Kaputnik
post Sep 8 2008, 10:42 AM
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yet another family on the MC family welfare plan


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