Monday, August 15, 2005
Public Access and the Digital Divide
A group from Channel 29, the public access station, were hoping for a major media event at the Polk Street stairs of City Hall where they were protesting the secret deal Mayor Gavin Newsom had made with the local cable monopoly, Comcast.
Michael, who works at the station, was referring to the fact that money is supposed to be going to Public, Educational & Government stations but the "Public" and "Educational" parts tend to get the short end of the stick.
Part of the reason for that is the terrible management team running the nonprofit, CTC, which is in place at public access. Above is Stu, an amiable soul, who is a board member of the station and at least had the courtesy to show up at the protest.
Unfortunately, the mayor was doing plenty of photo-ops for the television media, but they had nothing to do with public access or Comcast.
At Bill Graham auditorium across the plaza, there was yet another "Homeless Connect" event.
This one involved the so-called "Digital Divide," where the poor and homeless couldn't afford computers, so I guess they had found some donated machines to distribute.
"Do they actually work?" I asked one of the volunteers, and he gave me a shrug and an eyeroll as if to say, "Your guess is as good as mine."
The mayor was slated to give a short speech at 12:30 for the media.
In truth, the poor and homeless already have internet and computer access.
It's called the Main Public Library.
Unfortunately, the wait for a computer can be quite long. (The gentleman in the middle didn't want his picture published which is why he's literally blacked out.)
Newsom gave his Digital Divide speech and then moved to the front of City Hall where he gave a speech about guns.
At least, that's what it sounded like from what I could make out, how there was only so much he could do on a local level about violence.
The public access protestors were still 25 yards away on the front stairs and I said, "Hey, if you want to do a media event, get over where the media is."
So they all picked up their signage and traveled to Newsom rather than having him travel to them.
The fabulous Deena, hostess of "Tranny Talk" on Channel 29, was getting video footage.
Still, Newsom did his best to ignore the protestors and hustled back into City Hall flanked by his nervous bodyguards.