Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Access Tucson: Curtains for Certain?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 6:15 PM

If anyone was hoping for much resolution to the city's budget woes at today's Tucson City Council meeting, they were out of luck.

But something amazing did happen: All of the city's labor groups stood united against a pay proposal brought forth by City Manager Mike Letcher. They provided their own proposal to council members.

In the end, the council voted to put off decisions until they could consider the alternative proposal. Tune in next week to see how that works out.

UPDATE: Rob O'Dell of the Star reports that in the evening session, the council went forward with more furlough days for city employees.

The council did move forward with 60 percent cuts to most outside agencies, although they reduced the cuts to the Downtown Tucson Partnership to only 20 percent.

The 60 percent cut could spell the end to Access Tucson, the non-profit agency that runs the city's public-access TV stations.

Councilwoman Karin Uhlich tried to save Access Tucson by drawing money from Channel 12, the city's own TV station that airs glowing profiles of council members and televises council meetings. But the effort failed on a 3-4 vote, with Mayor Bob Walkup and council members Shirley Scott, Rodney Glassman and Steve Kozachik opposing the idea.

Letcher said he'd return next month with a proposal to merge public access with Channel 12. The big question: What is Channel 12 management going to do when a guy with devil horns wants to broadcast a show in which he urinates on a ripped-up photo of the Pope?

After the meeting, Sam Behrend, executive director of Access Tucson, said the future looked grim. Although the non-profit has a small reserve, it's probably not enough to keep it in business for any length of time.

Behrend said the Access Tucson board would meet this Thursday to decide the next move.

"The options are not good," Behrend said.

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