Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nominating committee declines to recommend appointment of Marvin Hilton to Telecom Board

Committee won’t support Hilton for Telecom Board
BY MARSHA L. MELNICHAK Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2008
URL: http://www.nwanews.com/nwat/News/66055/
Committee declines Hilton's offer to serve on Telecom Board
Marvin Hilton, who was recently fired as Fayetteville cable administrator, will not be recommended as the newest member of the Telecommunications Board to which he previously reported.
He was the only applicant for the board’s vacant position.
The Fayetteville City Council Nominating Committee, headed by Ward 2 Alderman Kyle Cook, agreed Monday to recommend to the full council that the position remain open.
“ I would say it was the fact that he was laid off by the city of Fayetteville and we’re discussing appointing him to a board for the city of Fayetteville, ” Cook said. “ It wasn’t the fact that he was the cable administrator. It was the fact that he just got laid off. It seemed kind of odd. ”
“ I think we just felt conflicted about it at this time in view of all that’s happened, ” said Adella Gray, the Ward 1 representative on the committee. “ We just didn’t feel like it was a good fit. ”
Ward 4 Alderman Shirley Lucas agreed.
“ We just didn’t feel comfortable making a recom- mendation, ” she said.
The City Council could still appoint Hilton on Tuesday when it votes on other committee recommendations.
“ The full council could say, ‘ We think there ought to be someone in there, ’” Ward 3 Alderman Robert Rhoads said.
“ I think there’ll still be some debate, ” Cook said. “ I kind of hope so. ”
He told committee members that there was no doubt Hilton knows about the telecommunications industry.
“ I’m a little queasy about what’s happened, but like I said, I think he could do some good work, certainly, if you took out what happened and just looked at his resume, ” Cook said. “ It makes it difficult. ”
Having only one applicant for a position is not a guarantee of approval, Cook said prior to the meeting.
“ Typically, though, I will say that if we only have one applicant, that person usually does get on, ” he said.
Hilton’s contract was terminated May 9. He applied to be on the board May 30. Ironically it was Hilton, in his former role as cable administrator, who notified the city clerk’s office of the need to fill the position after Jon Zimmer resigned.
Hilton has, so far, declined to talk about his termination or the events leading up to it. On Monday, he declined to comment on his application until after a council vote.
He said in his application that he wanted to contribute his knowledge and experience to the board, help keep the council informed of communication matters and lend some continuity to the process.
Hilton’s application indicates he is a 16-year resident of Fayetteville and a registered voter. Residency and being a registered voter are the only requirements for the board appointment, according to city code.
The first qualification Hilton listed for the Telecom Board position was his 13 years of experience as city staff support for that board.
He also cited his experience managing the Government Channel, monitoring the public access contract and handling cable franchise matters.
Hilton has 20 years of program production experience for access television, according to his application, which also cited memberships, conferences he attended and a degree in communications from the University of Kansas.
Last on his list of qualifications is “ extensive experience in interpreting and / or writing Public, Education and Government Access policies and / or contracts. ”
Whether the city was following existing policy for the Government Channel regarding forums and ongoing efforts to revise policies for that channel under Hilton’s leadership as cable administrator are issues recently brought to the City Council for consideration.
Lucas said if Hilton had a better relationship with the board, possibly “ things could have moved along better. ”
“ I’ve certainly watched a few meetings where he got in it with them, ” Cook concurred.
According to city code, the Telecom Board’s purpose is to advise the City Council on telecommunications issues and to coordinate and oversee telecommunications franchise systems and use of the public rights of way for public, educational and governmental channels.
“ I think he’s like the number one advocate for public access and citizens’ access for what’s going on in the city, ” said Jeff Waits, one of Hilton’s references for the city board. “ He believes in open government and all of that as much as anybody else that you’ll find anywhere. ”
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