Barbano (Chairperson), Karol Gorman, vice-chair, Peter Padilla, Barbara
Stone, Noel Thornsberry
Absent: Kate Marshall
1. ROLL CALL
The meeting was called to order at 6:49 p.m. with a quorum of five members
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Moved by Padilla,
seconded by Stone to accept the minutes
of the previous meeting. Passed 5-0.
and review of the open meeting law relating to CCCC subcommittees and
Deputy City Attorney Michael Halley presented an overview of the Nevada
open meeting law. He noted that the courts have construed the law liberally.
He noted the definition of action leading to a decision in Nevada Revised
Statutes (NRS) 241.015. He stated that the controlling law is currently
the statute as revised by the Nevada Legislature in 2001. The recent
Nevada Supreme Court decision (which found legal the City of Reno's
serial meetings at below-quorum strength), is irrelevant since it applied
to the law as it stood prior to the legislature's 2001 revision. He
thus warned that groups of two CCCC members in a series of meetings
could constitute a quorum, but the deciding factor lies in whether or
not there is intent to break the law.
Mr. Thornsberry asked if the controlling fact is "the number of
warm bodies present."
Mr. Halley responded that "you have to have some type of deliberation
toward a decision." In response to a followup by Mr. Thornsberry,
Mr. Halley noted that CCCC subcommittee meetings are probably not violative
of the law. "The last requirement is if a series of gatherings
are held with the specific intent to avoid the provisions of the chapter
Chairman Barbano asked if a meeting between committee members and Charter
Cable's Marsha Berkbigler should go through the public notice process.
"Probably not," Mr. Halley responded. However, if four members
of the CCCC attended, he recommended following the open meeting law
notice procedure and have city staff post timely notices.
He added that social functions are not violative. He noted that obtaining
a consensus by electronic means such as phone, fax or e-mail would violate
the law. The controlling case involves the University and Community
College System of Nevada (UCCSN) Board of Regents and their fax-poll
to obtain consensus on the censure of board member.
Ms. Stone asked for clarification of Mr. Halley's e-mail example.He
noted that if it involves asking for a determination on an item, it
could be considered a violation; adding that the legislature said that
a specific intent to violate the law needs to be present.
Mr. Padilla asked
about circulating information via e-mail to board members. e.g., news
of the activities of similar consumer panels elsewhere. Mr. Halley responded
that "FYI" dissemination which does not ask for feedback or
deliberation is permissable.
Deputy City Attorney Jonathan Shipman cautioned that e-mail exchanges
could become a discussion group (a conversation could continue even
after a participant has signed off) and evolve into "a decision-making
He suggested sending e-mails only to staff for future dissemination
to the CCCC.
Mr. Barbano remarked that "that makes us mushrooms" and that
the key is the UCCSN decision.
Mr. Thornsberry asked if any closed meetings or executive sessions are
permissable. Mr. Halley responded that the only exception lies in consultation
with legal counsel.
4. DISCUSSION AND CLARIFICATION OF THE ROLE OF THE CCCC AND CCCC
|a. City Council
b. Unofficial city website
c. Legislative lobbying
d. Committee member conduct
e. Handling complaint process
f. Media contacts
City of Reno Community
Relations Director Steven Wright
stated that the crux of City Council Resolution
No. 6077 (which created the CCCC) is that the committee acts in
an advisory capacity to the council and to assist staff when appropriate
in monitoring compliance (with the franchise agreement).
"What do you see as our job, verbatim from you," Ms. Stone
asked Mr. Wright.
He responded that under 6077, if the city has complaints in can't resolve,
he will bring them to the committee.
Ms. Gorman asked him to interpret section 3D of 6077 which empowers
the CCCC to consider unresolved complaints, specifically with regard
to complaints submitted to CCCC members. Mr. Wright responded that they
should be referred to city staff.
Ms. Stone noted that "it was my understanding that we were to take
complaints. Nobody said anything about you taking over. How did we evolve
Mr. Wright reiterated that the committee's role is advisory but also
noted the unresolved complaint language in section 3D.
Mr. Barbano asked if the CCCC is thus a court of appeals.
"I don't know if I'd say that," Wright stated, "we (the
City) are the franchising authority. It's our responsibility to investigate."
Ms. Stone asked why the CCCC was not so apprised by staff at its first
"Why are we here if we have no authority to do anything if we only
take complaints to talk to you, to talk to each other. Why are we here?"
Mr. Padilla asked how many times in the next 12 months will this committee
be needed to resolve unresolved complaints from staff. Mr. Wright could
not provide numbers.
"So you've been resolving complaints and not informing the committee,"
Mr. Barbano asked. "That's the status quo ante. Proper records
were not kept for years. You don't have benchmarks to respond to Mr.
Mr. Wright stated that "we have a procedure in place. We are establishing
a citizens service center for various city issues include cable, online
Mr. Padilla asked
if the CCCC will get a list of complainants in order to perform followups.
Mr. Wright stated that might be possible pending legal advice. Mr. Shipman
noted that he saw no problem therewith.
Mr. Thornsberry noted that he didn't sign on to micromanage city staff.
"I'd prefer to look for patterns."
Ms. Gorman referred to the January 15 CCCC meeting minutes noting the
establishment of subcommittees. "If part of our function was not
to review and mediate complaints, why did staff allow us to create subcommittees?"
Mr. Wright stated that "we're trying to clarify." He added
that he was new to city staff at that time. He said he had no idea that
the CCCC would be taking complaints. Mr. Barbano noted that it was explicitly
stated at the January meeting.
Ms. Gorman asked can a customer call the city regarding installation
and other issues? How many citizens are aware they can call staff per
the current franchise agreement which calls for the franchisee (Charter)
to notify customers that they can contact the city.
The chair recognized Charter Governmental Relations Director Marsha
Berkbigler. She stated that a notice was included annually with December
billings. She noted that City Public Information Officer Sharon Spangler's
phone number is printed on every bill.
Mr. Barbano stated that there appears to be a fundamental disagreement
between the CCCC and staff as to the role of the CCCC. He noted that
Mr. Wright had unilaterally changed the committee's charge from the
"Our job is not just to advise but to monitor compliance, hence
the name of this committee...You have unilaterally implemented a new
complaint structure after the publication of the Sepe Report (City of
Reno Cable Television Community Needs Report) without informing the
committee. The reason this committee was formed was complaints from
ratepayers to council. I applaud your efforts to turn this around. The
process of satisfying complaints was not well handled before. Our charge
says we need to inextricably involved in that process, not only to advise
and consent but to monitor on an ongoing basis...not micromanaging,
but macromanaging. You have changed the charge of this committee without
consulting or informing us. There is a serious problem with a deregulated
Mr. Wright responded that "I've shared with you procedures in place
with this and other governments."
Mr. Padilla noted that the CCCC was established to be an unbiased body.
"The reason for establishing the committee was complaint resolution.
Subscribers need an impartial arbiter, someone without a monetary interest
in revenues. It's a disservice to the community to have a committee
be shackled getting only what the city believes is an unresolved complaint.
The only way we can be effective is to talk to those subscribers directly...The
cable company makes a profit from every subscriber and the city makes
a profit from every subscriber. At some point, the subscriber needs
to have somebody that does not have an interest in the revenues that
are being generated."
Mr. Wright said he'd be happy to provide summary reports. Mr. Barbano
asked if they could be submitted weekly.
Mr. Barbano noted that the reason for the resignation of the chair of
the complaint committee, Jackie Inman, lay with Charter's stonewalling
her efforts. He added that some disclosure could jeopardize workers'
jobs. He asserted that staff efforts constituted an attempt to make
it seem as thought there is peace in the family.
Mr. Wright noted that Mr. Barbano is entitled to his opinion. Mr. Barbano
responded that he was not giving his opinion, but facts.
Ms. Berkbigler left the meeting, followed by Mr. Thornsberry.
Ms. Stone asked if these issues can be agendized at a city council meeting.
She noted that it seems the committee exists "to serve at your
(city staff) pleasure."
Mr. Wright apologized for any misunderstanding and reiterated that his
intent is to "clarify certain aspects" of the CCCC role.
Ms. Gorman noted that Resolution 6077
has very distinct language and saw no need to return to the council
Mr. Barbano noted that citizens expect the city to act and not argue
over the meaning of words. Mr. Wright deferred to City of Reno Chief
of Staff Leann McElroy.
Ms. McElroy stated that "the city absolutely expects you to handle
unresolved complaints, not do intake." She added that the city
needs to keep better records and that the CCCC will get regular reports.
Mr. Barbano noted that Charter's internal handling of complaints has
thus far not proven satisfactory.
Ms. Stone asked how the CCCC could obtain information of the committee
meets only monthly.
Mr. Barbano suggested
taking a cue from Mayor Cashell and ask for weekly reports by e-mail.
Ms. McElroy stated that that a weekly report to the CCCC complaint subcommittee
Ms. Stone noted
Charter's poor responses to complaints from senior citizens. Mr. Barbano
reiterated that such inconsistency could be addressed by Charter's response
to Mr. Thornsberry's January request for rates and policies.
Ms. McElroy noted that the documents Ms. Berkbigler had promised to
bring to the meeting would be obtained for the committee by staff given
that Ms. Berkbigler had departed the meeting.
Mr. Padilla asked if there is a requirement that Charter have a representative
at all meetings. Mr. Wright said no.
Mr. Shipman expressed concern that Mr. Barbano's unofficial website,
http://www.DecidingFactors.tv, was not authorized by the council. Mr.
Wright added that Mr. Barbano's e-mail correspondence in which he notes
his position on the committee could also be misconstrued as official
city communication. Mr. Barbano asked if the city would write an acceptable
disclaimer. Mr. Shipman recommended that the website be abolished. He
also noted that legislative lobbying is not within the purview of the
committee. Mr. Barbano noted that he and Ms. Stone disclaimed their
legislative testimony as not representing the position of the city.
Ms. Stone noted
that "everything we do, you're (city staff) trying to strangle
us and I'm not sure why. You're playing games." Mr. Shipman responded
that staff is trying to keep members from breaking the open meeting
law and exceeding their responsibilities.
Mr. Barbano noted that Dr. Sepe's report was the driving force behind
the need for Senate Bill 278. Problems
exist which can only be addressed by legislation.
"If our charge
is to see Charter complies with the franchise, if legislation is needed
it needs to be sought. We could have discussed this at our February
meeting which you (city staff) canceled," he stated.
Mr. Shipman stated that "I don't fault you." Mr. Barbano added
that this seems a moot point as the council has formally endorsed SB
278. Mr. Wright stated that the city has a lobbying staff to handle
such matters which must follow established council procedures.
Mr. Barbano noted
that he distributed a draft agenda for the February meeting which included
legislative activity. He asked whether or not that draft was forwarded
to the lobbying staff. Was the staff going to pursue such legislation
anyway? Mr. Shipman said that staff saw the SB 278 bill draft request
and informed council.
Mr. Padilla asked that agenda items 4d and 4f be discussed but Mr. Wright
refused. Mr. Padilla asked who sets agendas. Mr. Wright stated that
any member can agendize an item.
Mr. Barbano noted that he wanted the other committee officers to attend
a meeting requested by Mr. Wright but did not attend when Mr. Wright
opposed the attendance of the other members. Mr. Barbano added that
he felt that the issues should be addressed in the public forum of the
meeting at hand. Mr. Wright did not respond.
Ms. Stone said "you're trying to strangle us because Mr. Barbano
can do some things you can't." Mr. Wright said that was not his
intent. Many issues were specific to Mr. Barbano's conduct, so the staff
agendized him. Ms. Stone asked why he would not meet with all three
committee officers. Mr. Wright responded that the issues to be discussed
were specific to Mr. Barbano. Mr. Padilla noted that the agenda of the
meeting at hand was formed by the city and that the committee was thus
working on the city's agenda.
Mr. Wright expressed concern as to the tone and where matters are heading
which make him hesitant to address the agenda items regarding Mr. Barbano.
He reiterated the need for advice from the council. He added that staff
would provide copies of pertinent policies at another time. Mr. Barbano
noted he would look forward to seeing them. Mr. Wright added that the
committee also needs to understand city media contact policy. Mr. Barbano
noted that with respect to himself and Mr. Padilla, "we is the
5. Discussion of Assembly Bill 298 Prohibits state and
local governments from paying for certain publications, advertisements
and television programming that are reasonably likely to affect outcome
Nicole Lamboley, lobbyist for the city, noted that the bill was introduced
in response to expenditure of public funds in support of a tax advisory
by the Regional Transportation Commission of Clark County. She added
that a companion bill has been introduced in the state senate.
6. Discussion of Senate Bill 278 Revises provisions relating
to powers of certain local government entities to provide services of
community antenna television.
Mr. Barbano explained the need for the bill as a fallback for the city
should Charter's ongoing financial problems impair the delivery of service
or cause them to default on their franchise requirements. Ms. Gorman
noted that the bill would merely restore provisions of the existing
franchise (dated September, 1981), which had been circumvented by legislation
pushed by the cable industry in 1997. Mr. Barbano noted that some amendments
were in the offing. Ms. Lamboley noted that the council had only endorsed
the original language of the bill and had not acted on amendments. Mr.
Barbano noted again that the issue had been agendized for the CCCC February
meeting, but staff canceled the session.
7. Subcommittee status reports
a. Complaint Committee
Mr. Barbano noted the resignation of Ms. Inman despite entreaties asking
her to rescind. He asked the appointment of a new complaint chair be
agendized for the next meeting. He noted that he had handled three complaints
since Ms. Inman's departure, two forwarded by Councilmember Sferrazza.
He emphasized that prompt response was appreciated by the ratepayers.
b. Charter Operations Committee
Ms. Gorman noted that the committee had met to identify issues
and that Mr. Thornsberry noted the need for a meeting with Charter.
Mr. Wright noted that such a meeting is in the works. Mr. Padilla asked
about another tour of the Media Center (Sierra Nevada Community Access
Television). Mr. Wright recommended contacting SNCAT directly.
c. Communications Committee
Mr. Barbano noted that the committee was originally charged with outreach
to consumer groups and other entities such as the CCCC both inside and
outside Nevada. The committee could have also worked on legislation,
but SB 278 came up to quickly.
8. Discussion of resignation of Mrs. Inman from CCCC.
Mr. Padilla asserted that this item had already been covered. Mr. Barbano
9. Discussion of old business
a. Report from Jonathan Shipman on
whether public comment can lead to interactive discussion with the CCCC.
Mr. Shipman noted that such communication must be one way, as the CCCC
could not take action on issues not appearing on the posted agenda.
Mr. Barbano noted that members must be free to ask questions and that
the last thing consumers need to hear is that they must wait a month
for their complaint to be agendized. Mr. Shipman noted that a complaint
could be referred to the subcommittee. Mr. Barbano then requested that
unresolved complaints be made a permanent agenda item.
b. Report from City of Reno Public
Information Officer Sharon Spangler on alternative CCCC meeting dates
for the months of November and December and re-airing of CCCC meetings
on SNCAT Channel 13. Ms. Spangler presented options. Gorman moved,
seconded by Padilla, to hold the November and December meetings on the
third Tuesday of each month (Nov. 18 and Dec. 16). Passed 4-0. Mr. Barbano
further advised Ms. Spangler to inform SNCAT
schedulers to use their best judgment as to rebroacast times for CCCC
meetings, with a focus on having the meeting reach the widest possible
c. Report from Charter Communications
Government Affairs Director Marsha Berkbigler on the number of customer
service representatives available per shift; Charter's rebate credit
policy; overview of information kept by Charter regarding customer service
matters and Charter's adherence to the seven-day turnaround requirement
for picking up digital cable boxes from a customer who has requested
termination of service. Ms. Berkbigler was not present to deliver
her report. Mr. Barbano apologized if his comments had made her uncomfortable.
Mr. Wright noted she had the information requested and that he would
contact her for it. Ms. Stone asked that it been disseminated to committee
members. Mr. Wright said he would do so immediately upon receipt.
d. Report from City of Reno Community
Relations Director Steven Wright on proposals and processes that he
intended to put in place to deal with complaints received about Charter's
service. Mr. Wright noted that he had earlier covered the main components
of the city's new citizens service center. He noted that a procedure
is in place which will be enhanced over time. The new system will provide
tracking data. Mr. Barbano asked if the complaint policy had been reduced
to writing. Mr. Wright responded that it was in the process of implementation.
A separate task force within the city is working on it. He distributed
a sample procedure form. He added that the franchise renegotiation process
would further refine the complaint procedure.
10. Identification of agenda items for the next meeting of the CCCC.
Mr. Wright noted that agenda item 10 acts in the stead of a "new
Mr. Barbano asked that the subject of live call-in participation be
agendized for the next meeting. Ms. Gorman endorsed the idea, adding
that the CCCC needs as much public input as possible. Padilla moved
and Stone seconded a motion to agendize live call-ins. Mr. Wright noted
that staff would prepare a recommendation and guidelines. Motion passed
4-0. Mr. Barbano asked Mr. Wright to expedite advice from council on
the issue. Mr. Wright said he would follow up.
Mr. Barbano asked that the next meeting agendize appointment of a complaint
subcommittee chair. He also asked that consumer complaints be permanently
agendized. Mr. Wright noted that the committee needs to agendize receipt
of Charter's annual compliance report and Ms. Berkbigler's rebuttal
to Dr. Sepe's findings.
Mr. Barbano noted that the CCCC should have been in receipt of Ms. Berkbigler's
rebuttal months ago.
The chair then returned to agenda item 6 and recommended that the committee
support the council's endorsement of SB 278. So moved by Stone, seconded
by Padilla. Passed 4-0.
11. Public Comment.
No public comment was presented when the opportunity was offered.
Moved by Padilla, seconded by Stone. Passed 4-0. Meeting gaveled to
a close at approximately 8:44 p.m. PST.
Andrew L. Barbano, Chair
Acting Recording Secretary