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BEAT BYTE: Could City Manager unretire?

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  • Mike Martin
    THE COLUMBIA HEART BEAT -- 1/7/11 Happy New Year! 1) LANDLORD ANTI-CRIME SUMMIT: 2nd annual meet to tackle crime and rentals 2) RUMORS PONDER: City
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7, 2011
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      Happy New Year! 
      1)  LANDLORD ANTI-CRIME SUMMIT:  2nd annual meet to tackle crime and rentals
      2)  RUMORS PONDER:  City Manager's next steps
      3)  "BIZARRE" MEDIACOM STUNT:  Riles local radio host
      4)  NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOC. LEADER:  Fights board ouster move
      5)  MORE RUMORS: Question Maguire Blvd. delays
      6)  DEM LEADER CRISTAL:  Thanks readers, friends for support
      Links included in bold, so stories best read in HTML format.

      LANDLORD ANTI-CRIME SUMMIT:  2nd annual meet to tackle crime and rentals
      COLUMBIA, 1/7/11  (Beat Byte) --  "Every 2.6 Minutes, a property crime is committed In Missouri. 
      "One Burglary every 12.1 Minutes.  One Theft every 3.7 Minutes.  One Arson every 3.6 Hours."
      So opens the official invitation to one of the nation's most unique events, the 2nd Annual Columbia Property Managers Against Crime Summit, scheduled for Thursday, January 13th at the Parkade Center, from 6-9 pm.    
      The invitation cites 2009 Missouri State Hwy Patrol Statistics, cause for enough concern that last year's summit, held at the Youzeum, featured a standing room only crowd.  
      "In Columbia, 3,918 Property Offenses were reported this year, of which 692 were Burglaries; 3,083 were Thefts; 132 were Motor Vehicle Thefts; and 11 were Arson." 
      Moderated by Columbia Business Times editor David Reed, the summit features panelists that include Columbia Housing Authority CEO Phil Steinhaus, whose organization recently enacted ultra-strict anti-crime measures in all Section 8 and related housing authority leases.  It invites participants to "join real estate owners, managers, and residents in a conversation that covers issues affecting our property values, neighborhoods, and our entire community."
      Experts such as landlord/tenant attorney Steve Scott; Columbia Police crime free housing officer Tim Thomason; city code enforcement officer Bill Cantin; and Signal 88 Security president Matt Nichols are scheduled to discuss "hot button issues such as landlord and crime prevention, public housing crime provisions, effective screening, neighborhood dynamics, evictions, slumlords, and liability reduction," says Parkade manager Ben Gakinya, who is hosting the event.   
      Crime in and around rental property and criminal tenants have been a thorny problem in Columbia over the years. 

      RUMORS PONDER:  City Manager's next steps
      Could Columbia City Manager Bill Watkins "unretire"? 
      COLUMBIA, 1/7/11  (Beat Byte) --  Could Columbia City Manager Bill Watkins actually "unretire?" 
      That question sits atop several rumors swirling around his potential next steps after an announcement last year that he would step down this March.   Anticipating such a flip flop, "Mayor Robert McDavid is 'holding' Watkins' retirement papers," sources tell the Columbia Heart Beat.  Personal considerations may prompt the City Manager to change his mind, those sources detailed.    
      But other rumors have Watkins taking a job at the University of Missouri, where former Columbia police chief Randy Boehm ended up and where other politicos have hung out post-retirement shingles in the past. 
      Details on Watkins' alleged new MU job are equally sparse, but that's the nature of a rumor.  "I hear he'll be the new University Sewer director," one wag surmised, noting Watkins role in keeping MU's sewer rates down. 
      Watkins is a good leader, one high-level city staffer said.  But if he stays, he needs to communicate better.  "His inability, or perhaps refusal, to communicate" has been a singular problem with his leadership, the staffer -- who has also heard the "unretire" rumor -- explained.   
      Mr. Watkins and members of his senior staff are unlikely to confirm, deny, or even comment on his post-retirement plans, especially to this publication, so suffice it to say the public likely won't know what he plans until it happens.

      "BIZARRE" MEDIACOM STUNT:  Riles local radio host
      COLUMBIA, 1/7/11  (Beat Byte) --  Is Mediacom trying to rub margarita salt into KOMU television's post-negotiation wounds?  
      The controversial cable provider is hosting an NBC 'Wildcard Watch' party at Harpo¬ís Bar in downtown Columbia Saturday, a move that had KSSZ The Eagle radio talk show host Tom Bradley fuming on his radio show this morning. 
      "In order to provide an outlet for its subscribers to watch the two remaining NFL games televised on NBC," Mediacom is hosting "subscribers who lost access to NBC programming early Tuesday morning, after negotiations with KOMU fell through," a Mediacom press release reported. 

      Big Football has played into Mediacom negotiations before, most notably in a dispute with Sinclair Broadcasting resolved shortly before a recent Super Bowl. 
      Bradley had earlier hosted both parties to the failed negotiations, which saw Mediacom yank NBC affiliate KOMU from its subscriber airwaves, ostensibly over a rate dispute.  Bradley sounded as though he almost felt betrayed, after giving his undivided time and listener attentions to Mediacom communications director Phyllis Peters Wednesday.  
      "I just can't understand why Mediacom is doing this," Bradley said today, openly wondering how Harpo's would get the NBC signal.  "I know they won't be using rabbit ears," he added, which leaves Mediacom's satellite competitors as the only viable option.   But using the competition to get what you just said "no" to?
      "I can't understand how that's supposed to work!" Bradley exclaimed. 
      The watch party "is one of the tangible ways we can say 'thank you' to our customers for the loyalty they have shown Mediacom over the years," said Larry Peterson, Mediacom’s regional vice president for Missouri, in a news release.
      But Bradley was left scratching his head over what he seemed to consider a bizarre public relations stunt. 
      Told you so?

      Mediacom has been the object of both Columbia City Council and local customer ire many times over the past few years, most recently over a series of outages and other problems that prompted then 4th Ward City Councilman Jerry Wade to publicly criticize the cable provider.  Those issues left Bryan Gann, Mediacom's area operations director, unapologetic.  Gann wrote a letter to the Columbia Business Times blasting the criticisms.   
      The latest controversy -- over how much Mediacom should pay KOMU to broadcast its NBC signal -- has been frought with public relations gaffes. 
      In shades of Ed Robb vs. Jim Ritter for Missouri statehouse, in which Robb slammed Ritter for driving around in a "taxpayer-funded SUV" during his tenure as Columbia Public School superintendent, Mediacom has repeatedly chided KOMU for its "taxpayer-funded" status as an arm of the University of Missouri Journalism School. 
      But that argument plays both ways.  Paying KOMU more should reduce taxpayer outlay, most of which goes for educational purposes.  KOMU is one of few -- if not the only -- television stations in the U.S. dedicated to student education. 
      "Free food will be available at the start of both games and during halftime," Mediacom noted in its student-friendly watch party invitation. 

      NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOC. LEADER:  Fights board ouster move
      COLUMBIA, 1/7/11  (Beat Byte) --  North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association (NCCNA) president John Clark is fighting an ouster move by the association's board of directors over recent behaviors they say have discouraged involvement and stifled discussion.
      Clark has publicly scolded association members and represented NCCNA positions to the media without prior discussion or consent, board members claim.  One meeting recently erupted over a public chastisement Clark delivered to a board member he claimed had failed to follow an association protocol for contact with city government.  Board members can't locate such protocols in written guidelines and association by-laws, however, and have objected to the public outbursts.   
      In receipt of a December 29, 2010 registered letter detailing the grievances from "9 members of the NCCNA Board of Directors," Clark -- an attorney -- responded that the letter "fails to meet the requirements for effective notice as provided in Article VIII, Section 7 of the By-Laws of the Association, as amended May 13, 2003 on two grounds."   
      It wasn't delivered at least 30 days prior to the proposed vote on January 6, 2011; and it wasn't detailed enough. 
      "Sufficient detail would be a list of times, dates, places, behaviors to which there is an objection, persons toward which said behaviors were directed, and the specific objection claimed and by whom," Clark wrote.
      "Since the Board did not provide notice to me that satisfies the requirements of Article VIII, Section 7, the Board cannot hear motions, discuss, or vote on removing me as President or as a member of the Board." 
      Clark did not appear at the board meeting yesterday, reportedly delaying a vote for his removal.      

      MORE RUMORS:  Question Maguire Blvd. delays
      COLUMBIA, 1/7/11  (Beat Byte) --  "Anonymous tip," the email read.  "You might want to dig around a little bit on the Maguire Blvd. extension delays.  Rumor has it...."
      A $6.9 million project to connect LeMone Industrial Boulevard with Stadium Boulevard, the Maguire extension project has been nothing if not controversial. 
      Supposedly sealed with a handshake between developer Bob Lemone and Columbia City Manager Ray Beck years ago, the project involves building two bridges over Grindstone Creek that became flash points for environmental, budget, and congestion concerns.  City government's motives for pushing the project seemed shadowy at best, shady at worst. 
      A more complete picture has since emerged, as the extension will serve an industrial park once owned by the Lemone family where IBM, Linen King, and other businesses have migrated -- with help from city tax, lending, and leasing incentives.
      Construction on the Maguire extension has indeed been delayed, City Hall claiming weather, but that rumor -- which came from an operations manager who works near the project -- claiming something else entirely. 
      "The delay is less about the washout, and significantly more about a pissing contest between the contractor and the City of Columbia over who is going to pay for the repairs -- and that in the interim, little to no work has been performed since August 20th."   

      DEM LEADER CRISTAL:  Thanks readers, friends for support
      Back to work after a heart attack scare, Muleskinners moderator Scott Cristal says "thanks"
      Happy New Year!

      With such a bizarre ending to my 2010, I wanted to send a thank you to all the well wishes and offers for help that have been made.  You all have been really fantastic and uplifiting during what could have been for my family a troubling holiday season.

      In a quick review of details, the day after my birthday, my heart suddenly stopped. Since I have asthma, all my vitals  are always being checked. My heart is and was considered strong, still is. I have no blockage of anything, no blood clots, so they are at a loss to explain what happened. There were no warning signs. It's almost a freak type of thing.

      One moment I'm getting ready to make breakfast, the next I'm told was I was down. Fortunately Marcela heard a noise, rushed downstairs and did some CPR like on tv, called 911, and they rushed me to the hospital.
      Naturally, I have no recollection of any of this. One of my sisters looked up the statistics and found that of the people found that quickly only 33% survive.  Of that only about 3% return to normal.  So, I'm extremely lucky (assuming, of course, I'm normal). 
      At this point, I just figured my warranty wore off since this even took place the day after my birthday.  Interestingly, they have placed no restrictions on me, lifting, driving, living life.  They did place a defibulator in me which will only kick in if my heart ever stops again.

      So, basically, it's an excuse to appreciate everything more--not that I didn't before :-)  

      Again, thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes. It really did make a difference!   Looking forward to enjoying a wonderful 2011 with you and many more years to come!

      All the best,
      Scott Cristal

      All stories written and edited by Mike Martin
      The Columbia Heart Beat

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