I remain very concerned about Charter Communication’s poor corporate citizenship and willful violation of our franchise agreement. I know the community shares those concerns. In the interest of transparency here is my exchange today. Given Charter’s outlandish profits in Rochester I feel the 3 items I am asking for are very reasonable.
Dear Councilman Wojcik, Charter’s desire is to have strong and positive relationships with the City of Rochester leadership. We feel that by establishing a forum for a more direct and free exchange of ideas and viewpoints, it can lead to a more positive results for both of us. We would like the opportunity to meet with you to have a conversation about coming to an agreement regarding the issues currently before us, and to gain your input and ideas about moving forward in a more positive manner. We would really appreciate some time with you next Wednesday, October 29th, anytime between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm, along with our leadership team at a location to be determined. Our desire is to make contact before your next Council meeting on November 3rd, and if this suggested time is not convenient for you, please advise of your availability. Thank you for your consideration! LeeAnn
And here is my response:
Forgive me for being cynical about Charter’s desire to have a positive relationship with the city. Based on the fact that you printed up channel change guides with relocated PEG channels prior to asking for or receiving permission from the city. Then after permission was denied you went ahead and did it in violation of our contract. So I am cynical but I also realize you are not personally responsible for corporate abuses.
As you are probably aware I asked staff to take the necessary steps to find Charter in violation of our contract at the Nov. 3 meeting. As such it would be nice to see you not in violation of the existing agreement.
I will make some time on Wednesday, I suggest we meet at 10 AM at [redacted] or some other neutral location.
Per the discussion at our Council Committee meeting I look forward to you sharing the real wage distribution of the jobs that you claim to have created in the community. After Charter made that statement I immediately asked the city clerk to enter that in the meeting minutes. In the past Charter has not been willing to share that data, I assume because many of the jobs in the community paid a poverty wage, hopefully I am mistaken on that. I am happy that I will have some answers as to the wages Charter is paying in the community so long as you deliver this data.
In addition if Charter is sincere about there are 2 critical corporate practices that will need to change. I am interested in what you propose to do on both.
1) Reasonable accommodation needs to be made for you digital boxes. $7+ per month in perpetuity for a box that costs maybe $30 total may allowed according to the lack of competition in your industry, but it will not create a strong and positive relationship with the city.
2) Charter has a defacto monopoly status in broadband in the community. 1/3 of our kids in school are on free or reduced lunch and yet their families must pay $55 per month for unbundled regular price broadband. They can afford that and our kids lose. Comcast would offer 5 MB internet to these families for $9.95. I think that if Charter were to bring a similar program to Rochester that would help to build a strong and positive relationship.
I am very disappointed with Charter as a corporate citizen, but with living wages, fair treatment of digital connections, and affordable broadband for those in need I think we could build a better relationship.
I am also concerned about the customer service, but that didn’t make this list but I will bring it up.