Cable Advisory Council
of Charter Communications

   
PO Box 87
Newtown, CT 06470
     
     
March 11, 2003 Minutes
 
         
 
Cable Advisory Council
P. O. Box 87
Newtown, Connecticut

MINUTES

Public Regular Meeting – Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Newtown, Connecticut


There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:50 p.m. March 11, 2003 by Chairperson, John Sabo at the Charter Communications facility, Newtown, Connecticut.


ATTENDEES:
John Bell, John Danscuk, Jill Zaloski, Eugene Rosen, Judith Eslami, William Fredrickson, and John Sabo, Chairperson, Ken Cornet and Joseph Mustich. For Charter: Dick Elwell and GregVan Antwerp.

PUBLIC INPUT:
No public present.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
L. Szalay, recording secretary, read the minutes from January 14, 2003. A motion was made by W. Fredrickson to accept the minutes as submitted, and the motion was seconded by Judith Eslami. A vote was taken and the minutes were approved with a vote of 7 in favor and 0 against and 2 abstentions.

TREASURER'S REPORT:
F. Standt was present prior to the meeting being called to order, at which time he indicated he was no longer able to serve as treasurer due to other commitments. J. Sabo asked J. Zaloski to step in as treasurer pro tem, and she agreed. Responsibility for the treasurer’s position was then transferred to J. Zaloski on a pro-tem basis, and she agreed that she and F. Standt would discuss any open issues. J. Zaloski read the treasurer’s report, which had been prepared by F. Standt. A motion was made by W. Fredrickson to accept the treasurer’s report as submitted. The motion was seconded by K. Cornet and carried unanimously.

Opening balance of the checking Account (1/14/03). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 687.66
CHECKS WRITTEN: Newtown Secretarial Svc. (11/13/02 minutes) -333.79
Judith Eslami (food) -51.46
John Sabo (video tapes) -32.63
Kathryn Wlodarezyk (videotaping) -30.00
Closing balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 282.09
Opening Balance on the Money Market Account (1/14/03) . . . . . . . . . . $ 10,652.69
Interest 1/30/03 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.05
Interest 2/28/03 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.62
Closing Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 10,672.36
1 yr. plus CD @ $10,000 + $1,183.47 int. to date = $11,183.47 (Matures 8/27/03)


COMMUNICATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
J. Sabo indicated he had received correspondence from the First Selectman of Southbury, requesting emergency contact information for Charter for their Local Emergency Planning Committee for dissemination of information in the event of an emergency. This was discussed and Charter indicated they would provide such information.

J. Eslami indicated a letter was received from an individual regarding the gross earnings tax noted on the Charter bill. J. Eslami discussed this matter with J. Vance at Charter and J. Vance responded with a letter to the First Selectperson. D. Elwell gave a brief explanation of this tax, indicating it has always been included in the bill but believes it had previously been included under a tax category that was not broken out in detail as it is now.

W. Fredrickson indicated he had received several letters from people who would like to have more options available to them instead of the bundled packages currently available. K. Cornet indicated he felt the council should put pressure on the FCC to ask for more choices. D. Elwell explained the existing options and why they are bundled as they are, indicating that separating out many of the channels that do not have a large viewership could potentially eliminate those channels altogether or result in a huge increase to those wishing to select them individually if they were available in that format. J. Sabo suggested that possibly offering more tier choices may be the answer, eliminating such a big jump in price between tier 1 and tier 2. J. Bell, a newly-appointed representative for Kent, also indicated he felt a broader range of tiers would be more attractive, indicating people are tired of paying for things they don’t want. D. Elwell indicated that corporate was looking into offering more options.

J. Sabo indicated he received a letter of resignation from R. Kosier (New Milford). J. Sabo again indicated there were several pieces of correspondence that appeared to be payments that were directed to Charter via the Council’s Post Office box. These were passed on to D. Elwell. A couple letters regarding billing issues and requests for specific channels being offered were also passed on to D. Elwell for response. Apparently the Council’s address is listed on the bill, and people were inadvertently sending their payments/correspondence to Charter at the wrong address.

OLD BUSINESS:
Changes to By-laws – K. Cornet expressed the opinion that it is difficult to attain a quorum since there are so many towns that either have not appointed representatives or those representatives are not regularly attending meetings. J. Sabo indicated that J. Eslami had proposed a letter be sent to towns that do not currently have representatives, urging them to appoint someone. J. Sabo reiterated that this is an item that requires appointment by either the First Selectman or the Board of Education, and a person cannot become involved by merely attending the meetings as a willing participant. He did, however, suggest that if anyone knows people who are interested in participating, members should pass their names on to the appropriate officials so they can be considered for appointment. J. Zaloski indicated an individual from New Milford had come to a meeting a while ago, interested in participating, but all slots were filled (although most times the individuals do not attend). She felt this also was a disadvantage in attracting people who are truly interested in representing their communities on the council. J. Eslami indicated she had worked with J. Vance to develop a letter to be sent to appropriate town and Board of Education officials, and she read the proposed letter. K. Cornet opposed the wording of the letter, indicating he felt the council’s duty was not only to advise Charter, but also to advise the people of the areas represented, the DPUC, etc. J. Eslami noted the wording used in the letter came in large part from a notation on the Charter Communications bill to its customers, which is meant to inform the public of the existence of the council and its mailing address for individuals wishing to write to the council.

Scholarship Committee Report – P. Hopper was unable to attend the meeting. J. Sabo indicated he had discussed the awards festival with P. Hopper and she asked that the other committee members work towards completing the process, judging the entries and making a determination on awards by the council’s May 2003 meeting. J. Eslami indicated 12 submissions were received. She indicated she and E. Rosen, the other two members on the committee, would discuss with P. Hopper and would take whatever steps necessary to complete the process.

Web Site – J. Sabo indicated the creation of the website is in progress. He indicated the council now has a domain name, but still needs an address on the web, and indicated it will probably be through Earthlink. J. Sabo indicated that, of the original $1,000 approved by the council to be used for the website, $210 has been utilized for the domain names. J. Sabo further stated that he is working with a student from his school and a volunteer to create the website. He indicated he had not received any response from council members on items to be included in the website, other than those he listed at the last meeting. J. Sabo stated his goal is to get the website up and running by the next meeting, indicating it is an informational site and will be about 8 to 10 pages long.

Distance Learning Grant Status – C. Devoe was not present. At the September 2002 meeting, C. Devoe asked for the council to commit to a donation of $2,500 for equipment needed towards completion of the necessary links for distance learning through Westconn. This commitment of funds would only become a true expense if all other funds necessary could be raised through other sources. C. Devoe has not been in attendance since that approval was given, and no report has been made to the council as to whether the total funds needed were pledged. J. Eslami indicated that, although this request was approved, there was no time limit set on this expenditure, and suggested there should be a time limit on how long this commitment will stand. Following discussion by council members, W. Fredrickson made a motion to establish a deadline of September 9, 2003 for this expenditure. J. Eslami seconded the motion. E. Rosen suggested someone call C. Devoe to determine if this matter is still open. K. Cornet suggested the deadline should be the end of this school year, as opposed to September, which is the beginning of the next school year. J. Zaloski indicated Board of Education budgets are set by July 1, which marks the beginning of the new fiscal year, and so by September it would be a mute point. She suggested the July meeting would be a more appropriate date. The motion was amended to set the deadline at July 8, 2003, which is the date of the council’s July meeting. K. Cornet seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously. J. Sabo indicated he would attempt to contact C. Devoe to inform him of this decision.

Consolidation of Western and Northwestern Franchise Areas – J. Sabo indicated this item would be tabled until we have a better understanding of what is needed as far as council activities. D. Elwell indicated they have been meeting with the various towns in the new franchise area and requested that individuals be appointed to the council. He further indicated Charter will continue to look at the video conferencing as a means of bringing both groups together without requiring excessive travel on the part of the members.

NEW BUSINESS:
Member Items and Issues – K. Cornet expressed concern when calling for assistance if cable service goes out, relative to being transferred to Florida and Massachusetts. D. Elwell indicated he would discuss that in his report.

Nominations for Office of Treasurer – J. Sabo indicated that since F. Standt was no longer able to serve in the capacity of treasurer, it would be necessary to hold elections for a new treasurer. J. Eslami made a motion to appoint J. Zaloski. W. Fredrickson seconded the motion. Nominations will remain open and an election will be held at the May 13, 2003 meeting.

J. Eslami asked if F. Standt will continue to serve on the council as a member, and J. Sabo indicated that he believed the resignation was from the council as well as from the position of treasurer. K. Cornet asked if a plea could be made to the public, at which time he asked that any individuals watching the airing of the council meeting who are interested in joining the council contact their local selectperson for appointment.

CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS REPORT:

D. Elwell distributed the February edition of Charter News, which is a public affairs newsletter that goes to all town officials, senators, DPUC, OCC, etc. and discusses items of interest.

D. Elwell indicated presently the customer service issues are their main focus. He indicated that there were several systems being implemented simultaneously – transferring from the Florida call center to the Enfield call center, a new billing system, moving staff to new building in Newtown, new technology – as well as holidays, and this was very overwhelming. He indicated there is a new system in place to determine effectiveness of customer service, busiest call-in times, etc. He reported that recently the rate at which calls have been answered in two minutes or less is at 90%, indicating an increase in level of response to customer calls. They continue to work on improving this situation. In addition, new representatives continue to be hired and trained and there will be 72 representatives on board by the end of March, with 21 having been hired this year.

G. Van Antwerp distributed the most recent Community Vision 21 Newsletter and public access report. He indicated there were 3 upcoming community outreach sessions – one in New Milford on March 19, Southbury Public Library on March 22, and at the Trumbull Town Hall on April 3.

ADJOURNMENT:

A motion was made by J. Eslami to adjourn the meeting at 10:00 p.m. The motion was seconded by J. Zaloski and carried unanimously.

Respectfully submitted by: Lorna J. Szalay, Recording Secretary

NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 at Charter Communications offices in Newtown, 7:30 p.m.

   
             
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