October 30, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain Council wants to grill executives from Time Warner

LORAIN — Complaints about Time Warner Cable service have sparked a renewed call for company executives to appear at a City Council public hearing.

“I don’t think it’s asking too much when they’re getting the money from residents of this city,” Councilman Eddie Edwards, D-5th Ward, told Mayor Chase Ritenauer at Monday’s Council meeting.

Prompted by constituent complaints of frozen or pixilated images, Councilman Dan Given, D-at large, in December asked for a hearing. Ritenauer in December said he expected a hearing would be held in January, but it never occurred.

A Dec. 19 article in The Chronicle-Telegram about Time Warner service prompted several calls and emails from around Lorain County and as far away as New York state from customers complaining about pixilation problems. Ritenauer told Edwards he met with Time Warner representatives last month and relayed complaints.

Ritenauer said they told him phone records showed complaints from Lorain were no greater than in other communities and they are looking at the quality of cable boxes in Lorain. Ritenauer urged residents with problems to call Time Warner and document complaints.

The call for the hearing came with as Time Warner reported making a $156,415 franchise fee payment to Lorain for the fourth quarter. Ritenauer said Lorain receives about $600,000 annually from Time Warner which had about $19.7 billion in annual revenue in 2011 and serves about 1 million customers in Northeast Ohio.

Reached by phone after the meeting, Travis Reynolds, a Time Warner spokesman, said he was unsure if company executives would be willing to attend a hearing. Reynolds asked customers with complaints to call the company.

“Our main goal is to make sure our customers are happy and getting the service they’re paying for,” he said. “We definitely want to keep our customers happy.”

In other business:

Council members approved hiring Hull & Associates, an engineering company with offices in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, to develop an abatement and demolition plan for up to 130,000 square feet of the St. Joseph Community Center. The plan is expected to be drafted in 30 to 45 days with demolition possibly beginning by June, according to Doug Rangel, director of the Lorain Development Corp. and Lorain’s private business consultant. The only tenant who would potentially be impacted is Lorain County Community College’s construction education program.

Hull will be paid with a $214,500 state taxpayer environmental grant. Lorain officials hope the demolition will help attract tenants to the aging, money losing center which has been plagued by cooling and heating problems.

Ritenauer said Lorain’s upcoming general fund budget will be discussed before the Finance and Claims Committee Monday after a Parks and Recreation Committee meeting at 6 p.m.

Law Director Pat Riley said Lorain is updating its protocol on storing electronic information such as emails, text messages and tweets by public officials in case the information is sought in lawsuits. Riley said storage is, “an evolving science.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.