City gets paid by Adelphia
by Chris Wilson
Ojai City Council members agreed to toss in an additional
$30,000 in a joint effort to fund upgrades to the Libbey Park
tennis courts at their Tuesday meeting. But the extra spending
didn't come easily.
City staff bid expectations fell thousands of dollars short of
the $280,052 lowest responsible bid by Malibu Pacific Tennis
Since this upgrade is a collaborative effort between the council,
Ojai Civic Association and the Ojai Tennis Club, Public Works
Director Stan Hakes told the council that the additional $30,000
is a part of the city's commitment to pay one-third of the total
cost of the project. The extra money, he said, will hopefully
inspire the other involved funders to cough up more money for
Confusion arose when Councilwoman Rae Hanstad said she could
not vote positively for the project, and extra spending, because
of prior concern that the park's electrical infrastructure could
not handle the proposed lighting of the courts.
Councilwoman Sue Horgan was absent from the meeting and Mayor
Pro Tem Joe DeVito recused himself from the decision because
he serves on the board of directors of the Tennis Club. This
left only Councilman David Bury and Mayor Steve Olsen to vote
"yes" for the project, causing it to fail.
After City Attorney Monte Widders explained that DeVito's recusal
in effect created a tie vote, and City Manager Dan Singer reminded
Hanstad that the city was only paying for court resurfacing,
fencing and sidewalk improvements - lighting is to be funded
entirely by the Civic Association - the council reopened the
item and passed it unanimously.
In all, five tennis courts will be resurfaced and other improvements
will be made to the area around the courts. After Public Works
gets further information on the additional funding from the other
two sources, a contract will likely be awarded.
In other council news, local cable subscribers may have more
time to play evening tennis if Adelphia Cable's recent bankruptcy
General Services Director Carol Fox prepared a report to let
the council and public be aware the city staff and attorney's
are working diligently to protect Ojai's interests during the
cable companyís chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.
Lawyer Peter Lemmon of the City Attorney's office told the council
that Adelphia's recent accounting scandal led to the bankruptcy
which gives the city the freedom to disengage from the franchise
agreement, though he didn't recommend it. Adelphia, he said,
has committed to continue providing service while they go through
He recommended the city pursue forming a creditor's committee
that could seek approval from the New York judge, where the bankruptcy
was filed, to monitor the facts, influence the direction of the
case and the recovery of money owed by creditors.
Also of concern is monitoring whether the city will continue
to receive its franchise fees from Adelphia, which were reported
to have been written on invalid accounts. In March the city received
franchise fees of $35,648 from Adelphia and the next payment
is due in October.
A bankruptcy trustee has approved the use of new accounts to
meet Adelphia's commitments, including franchise fees. Fox said
she would be willing to receive phone calls and e-mails from
citizens concerned about the cable company's bankruptcy.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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