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Montague Cable Advisory Committee
mik - Sat, Jul 30, 2005, 12:00 A
MCAC Minutes 7/27/05
Minutes from the Montague Cable Advisory Committee (MCAC) Meeting on 7/27/05
Present: John Reynolds, Mike Naughton, Roy Rosenblatt, Chris Sawyer-Lau├žanno, Sam Gilford

Chair, John Reynolds, called the meeting to order at 7:07 p.m.

1. John opened the meeting by saying that he had received no response from Steve Fitzgibbons of Comcast about the use of Channel 17 for Montague programming instead of it remaining the education channel. Chris stated that he had checked the FCC regulations and did not find any mandate for an exclusive education channel. Mike noted that in the assignment letter of intent Marty McGuane touts Channel 17 as being dedicated to education. He followed up by saying we need to get an answer as to why this is being changed. John will call Fitzgibbons again.

2. Minutes from the 3/2/05 and 3/22/05 meetings were approved unanimously.

3. The discussion next turned to Chris’ document (see below) that he had prepared in response to the changes to the RFP suggested by Al and Patricia. Mike noted that Category VII should be Category VIII. Mike further noted that he agreed with Patricia’s suggestion that ’local’ be defined as Franklin/Hampshire Counties. He noted that in the former contract with AT&T the contract had specifically named Montague as local. This was changed by Sam Lovejoy in the negotiations with Comcast so that there was no mention of Montague or any entity providing local access.

Roy said that he was generally satisfied with the informational document and reiterated that 30B was intended to eliminate bias. All but Sammy agreed.

On the three-year duration, Mike said he felt this was right with a Town Meeting vote. He also noted that the reason for not requiring specific cable experience was that it allowed more entities to compete. Mike will send a longer explanation in writing to Chris to include in final document.

There were also a few suggestions for other changes. The draft document (Appendix A) and the final document (Appendix B) are presented below. Chris will send on to Frank and the Select Board within two days. CAC members agreed to read and respond within the next 48 hours.

The meeting adjourned at 7:07.

Respectfully Submitted,

Chris Sawyer-Laucanno
Recording Secretary






APPENDIX A: Background Information Regarding the Select Board’s Proposed Changes to the RFP (DRAFT)

The CAC reviewed the changes suggested by Dr. Ross and Ms. Pruitt regarding the RFP. We thought it might be useful to offer the following explanations as to why we included the information we did, and what led us to the specific wording of certain sections. This information is not to be construed as a rebuttal. It is simply informative.

The first issue seems to be that of following MGL Chapter 30B. Counsel advised that while 30B does not have to be followed, it certainly can be followed, a sentiment echoed by Patricia Pruitt in her response. Our sense was that while this was not a specific requirement, 30B does provide a useful level of professional requirements, ensures that there is true, open and fair competition, and provides important safeguards for the Town. Indeed, the original purpose of Chapter 30B was to guard against bias and ensure a standardization of procedures. For these reasons, we decided that the RFP was a sounder document if we followed 30B.

The provisions Dr. Ross noted in Section V (Submission Requirements) as being unnecessary, are part of 30B. In reviewing these we feel that while they are not essential, they do provide the Town with a high degree of assurance that those submitting proposals do so in a uniform and professional manner. Provision K, for instance, requires that proposers submit on time; Provision M details the procedure for withdrawing a proposal and ensures that any changes a proposer makes after submission are done so in writing. The other provisions are of a similar nature. We feel that these are common-sense rules, and provide the Town with safeguards.

Whether 30B is followed or not, this is an RFP; hence our confusion over Al’s wishing to delete the term ’RFP.’


Specifics:

III (Purchase Desc) Provision P: Patricia Pruitt’s wording seems appropriate

IV (Submissions) Provision C

The CAC, after much deliberation, felt that 3 years was an adequate amount of time to demonstrate the proposer’s intentions. A longer period, we felt, was probably unrealistic given the changing nature of cable.

Provision I

The CAC felt that is was important that a proposer account for inventory and anticipate purchases from Comcast capital allotments in order to determine a group’s fitness for responsibly outfitting a studio.

Provision J

FCC guidelines mandate that a PEG provider run regular community training sessions. The purpose of this provision is to gather information as to a proposer’s intent to run such training, as well as determine what types of training a group intends to offer Montague citizens.

V (Submission Requirements) Provision 0


VI (Rules for Award) Provision B

After much deliberation the CAC felt that a three-year award was adequate to ensure continuity with cable, as well as provide a limitation on the contract. From our examination of the practices in other MA communities, we discovered that a three-year contract is fairly standard for a new provider. As noted in the contract terms, the assignment is renewable provided the provider is performing satisfactorily following a review. We also believe that this provides an important safeguard for the Town to dismiss a cable provider deemed unsatisfactory without incurring the possibility of litigation.

Provision C

The Select Board is, of course, free to appoint a new committee to review the proposals. We volunteered to take on this task as we felt that after eight months of examining cable issues, in our own community and in others, and having written the RFP, we feel we understand PEG issues quite well. The CAC welcomes the appointment of new members to the Committee.

VII (Comparative Evaluative Criteria)



1: Our reason for suggesting that at least 50% of the provider’s board members be Montague citizens was because this is Montague local access. That the provider be based in the ’local area’ was compromise wording. We feel that it is ’highly advantageous’ that Montague residents be well represented on the board.

2: Again, to substitute ’Franklin County’ for ’Montague’ seems to slight the importance of our Town and community in favor of a larger entity.

3: The three-year requirement allowed for younger and newer non-profits to compete.

5: The wording of ’similar studio’ was inserted to allow for organizations (such as those who have operated studios within schools, or who have managed public facilities) to compete.


Contract Provisions: B: see IV (C) above.

Provision E

Patricia Pruitt’s suggestion seems sound.



APPENDIX B:

Background Information Regarding the Select Board’s Proposed Changes to the RFP (Final Document)


At a meeting on July 27, 2005, the CAC reviewed the changes suggested by Dr. Ross and Ms. Pruitt regarding the RFP. We thought it might be useful to offer the following explanations as to why we included the information we did, and what led us to the specific wording of certain sections. This information is not to be construed as a rebuttal. It is simply informative.

The first issue seems to be that of following MGL Chapter 30B. Counsel advised that while 30B does not have to be followed, it certainly can be followed, a sentiment echoed by Patricia Pruitt in her response. Our sense was that while this was not a specific requirement, 30B does provide a useful level of professional requirements, ensures that there is true, open and fair competition, and provides important safeguards for the Town. Indeed, the origional purpose of Chapter 30B was to guard against bias and ensure a standardization of procedures. For these reasons, we decided that the RFP was a sounder document if we followed 30B.

The provisions Dr. Ross noted in Section V (Submission Requirements) as being unnecessary, are part of 30B. In reviewing these we feel that while they are not essential, they do provide the Town with a high degree of assurance that those submitting proposals do so in a uniform and professional manner. Provision K, for instance, requires that proposers submit on time; Provision M details the procedure for withdrawing a proposal and ensures that any changes a proposer makes after submission are done so in writing. The other provisions are of a similar nature. We feel that these are common-sense rules, and provide the Town with safeguards.

Whether 30B is followed or not, this is an RFP; The Committee was not clear on why Dr. Ross wishes to delete the term ’RFP.’

We would also like to add that in coming up with the criteria for this draft RFP, our goal was to encourage as many potential candidates as possible. Unlike some other RFPs (e.g. the landfill, or the Strathmore project), the pool of potential responders in this case seems relatively small, and so much of our effort was devoted to trying to keep it as big as we could. In doing so, we tried to balance our recognition that an organization that is already providing PEG access or is producing community television has an obvious advantage with our belief that an organization with strong ties to the Montague community
and a good track record of public service and financial management might well be an appropriate steward of the town’s cable subscribers’ funds. In the end, we are looking for the best PEG access provider for Montague, and that means having both technical expertise and an strong commitment to serving our community in all its idiosyncratic diversity.


Specifics:

III (Purchase Desc) Provision P: Patricia Pruitt’s wording seems appropriate

IV (Submissions) Provision C

The CAC, after much deliberation, felt that 3 years was an adequate amount of time to demonstrate the proposer’s intentions. A longer period, we felt, was probably unrealistic given the changing nature of cable.

Provision I

The CAC felt that is was important that a proposer account for inventory and anticipate purchases from Comcast capital allotments in order to determine a group’s fitness for responsibly outfitting a studio.

Provision J

FCC guidelines mandate that a PEG provider run regular community training sessions. The purpose of this provision is to gather information as to a proposer’s intent to run such training, as well as determine what types of training a group intends to offer Montague citizens.

V (Submission Requirements) Provision 0

Federal and State law requires only that a bidder for a contract be in current tax compliance. MGL Chapter 62C, Sec. 49A states that a firm cannot be in current tax compliance if any delinquencies in past years have been unresolved. As a result, there is no need to insert a specific number of years.


VI (Rules for Award) Provision B

After much deliberation the CAC felt that a three-year award was adequate to ensure continuity with cable, as well as provide a limitation on the contract. From our examination of the practices in other MA communities, we discovered that a three-year contract is fairly standard for a new provider. As noted in the contract terms, the assignment is renewable provided the provider is performing satisfactorily following a review. We also believe that this provides an important safeguard for the Town to dismiss a cable provider deemed unsatisfactory without incurring the possibility of litigation.

Provision C

The Select Board is, of course, free to appoint a new committee to review the proposals. We volunteered to take on this task as we felt that after eight months of examining cable issues, in our own community and in others, and having written the RFP, we feel we understand PEG issues quite well. The CAC welcomes the appointment of new members to the Committee.

VIII (Comparative Evaluative Criteria)

Provision 1

Our reason for suggesting that at least 50% of the provider’s board members be Montague citizens was because this is Montague local access. That the provider be based in the ’local area’ was compromise wording. Indeed, our original wording was ’Montague-based,’ a designation borrowed from the Town’s previous contracts with AT&T and Comcast. In our compromise we decided on ’local area’ to be more inclusive. We welcome the Select Board’s efforts to further delineate ’local.’

On the second point, we feel that it is ’highly advantageous’ that Montague residents be well represented on the board since this organization will be providing PEG programming for Montague, not any other town.

Provision 2

Again, to substitute ’Franklin County’ for ’Montague’ seems to slight the importance of our Town and community in favor of a larger entity.

Provision 3

The three-year requirement allowed for younger and newer non-profits to compete. The CAC felt that this might help to broaden the field of proposers.

Provision 5

The wording of ’similar studio’ was inserted to allow for organizations (such as those who have operated studios within schools, or who have managed public facilities) to compete. The CAC felt that if we restricted proposers only to those who operate TV studios, we would be severely restricting the field.


Contract Provisions: B: see IV (C) above.

Provision E

Patricia Pruitt’s suggestion seems sound.



Respectfully Submitted (via electronic mail)

The Montague Cable Advisory Committee

John Reynolds (chair)
Sam Gilford
Michael Naughton
Chris Sawyer-Laucanno
Roy Rosenblatt