And…cut to black.
The saga over whether or not the Spokane Valley City Council would seek to reopen contract negotiations with cable company Comcast over PEG funding ended Tuesday much like the final episode of “The Sopranos” -- abruptly and without much explanation.
When it came time for the council to decide on the matter, it did so without a decision at all. Council Member Gary Schimmels moved to renegotiate portions of the Comcast contract – which was roughly five years in the making and finally approved in 2009 – that have to do with public, educational and governmental funding. Specifically, some council members had sought to suspend the 35 cents per month billed to cable customers for PEG capital funding.
However, a rare thing happened – no council member seconded Schimmels’ motion, so the issue died right then and there.
“I guess I don’t have a presentation then,” Cary Driskell, deputy city attorney, quipped.
Driskell actually had plenty to say on the subject at the June 8 meeting, when he told the council that removing the 35-cent charge could cause Comcast to also want to reopen portions of the contract the city would rather leave intact.
The fee also allows the city to be able to purchase equipment to broadcast council meetings themselves over the cable PEG channels. That is currently being done via Community Minded Television for a $3,000 per month charge to the city.
Comcast could also conceivably decide to black out the PEG channels, which provide educational programming to public schools and colleges, to Spokane Valley customers.
In other news, the council:
- agreed to purchase a backhoe for $99,372 and a sander/snowplow for $177,490. Money for the backhoe will be split between the city’s street and stormwater funds, as that piece of equipment is expected to be used year-round.
- approved a second reading for final approval of the city’s code text amendments. Of particular interest to those living in the Chester Creek, the ruling now matches the city’s code to federal flood plain maps that had forced residents to pay for unneeded insurance due to inaccuracies in the “base flood elevations.”
Finally, the council unanimously recommended to send to the Planning Commission for study numerous revisions to the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan that would relax standards – such as to setbacks, signage, usage and building frontage -- in the “gateway corridor” and “gateway center” zones dominated by Auto Row.
That idea received criticism from former Mayor Richard Munson.
“You have to run business according to rules,” he said. “A city without rules causes chaos.”
The council will not meet on June 22. The next meeting will be June 29 at 6 p.m.