Sunday, May 11, 2008

City Fires cable administrator, reports The Northwest Arkansas Times

City fires cable administrator
BY MARSHA L. MELNICHAK Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Saturday, May 10, 2008
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The employment of Fayetteville Cable Administrator Marvin Hilton was terminated Friday. Hilton headed the Cable Administration Division for the city since Feb. 1, 1995.
"All proper protocols and processes were followed," said his immediate supervisor, Susan Thomas, public information officer and policy advisor.
She declined to say why Hilton was terminated and directed all inquiries to the Human Resources Division. Melissa "Missy"Leflar, Human Resources Division manager, was out of the office Friday.
City Attorney Kit Williams said there is no appeal process for termination for general employees.
"Arkansas grants employers, including cities, the right to terminate at will just like employees have the right to leave anytime they want to unless there is a separate contract or some other provision," Williams said.
It is Thomas's intent to approach the City Council next week for a waiver from the hiring freeze so the city can advertise to refill the position.
Attempts to reach Hilton were unsuccessful Friday. He indicated through e-mail Friday evening that he would call the Northwest Arkansas Times after relaxing, but did not do so.
Thomas said there was no connection between Friday's events and a proposal made during 2008 budget discussions to reorganize the Cable Administration Division.
That proposal was to merge some of the duties of the cable administrator and the neighborhood coordinator in the Planning Division into one new position - public information coordinator.
Hilton has been in the public eye in recent months with his support of a citywide Wi-Fi system and for his part in the bickering among the city's Cable Access Television channel, the government channel and the Telecommunications Board.
Disagreements about lines of authority led Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Ferrell to look for ways to get the groups to be more respectful and friendly to each other. Reference was to a Telecom Board meeting in which Hilton was gaveled down by the chairman of the CAT board in mid-sentence during a request for information from the CAT manager, Sky Blaylock.
According to the city's Web site, the Cable Administration Division oversees the operations of the city's Government Access Channel 16; monitors and enforces the city's franchise agreement with Cox Communications; works with the Telecommunications Board and the City Council to enforce federal cable television regulations; and supervises the performance of the public access provider and the educational access channel's operation.
Thomas confirmed there was a police officer present when Hilton was asked to leave his office at the PEG center at 101 West Rock St. Friday morning.
"It's a security issue regardless of the employee or the situation," she said. "There was no drama."

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