Cable company says give 'em back - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Cable company says give 'em back

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Albany -- Controversy erupted recently over laptop computers purchased for Albany City Commissioners and the Mayor. Now, Mediacom, the cable-company that donated the money for the laptops, says they'll just take the computers back.

Two commissioners didn't take the laptops when they were purchased. Another commissioner turned his in last week because he didn't want his constituents to think he's getting kickbacks.

Now Mediacom is saying if the laptops are causing all of this trouble, they'll be happy to take them back. But Mayor Willie Adams says the laptops aren't going anywhere.

Mayor Willie Adams knows the city deals with too many stacks of paper. "We have lots and lots of paper that's produced on a daily basis."

That's one of the reasons why he wanted commissioners to transition to meeting agendas on computer disc instead of inch-thick binders. But he also says it's time for the city to move into the 21st Century. "A lot of our constituents are using computers. They can stay in better contact with their city commissioner or their mayor."

The laptops though, have become a source of controversy, with some commissioners not wanting to use them. So Thursday, a statement was sent to WALB from a Mediacom Regional Vice President saying: "However, since the Commission members are not using these laptop computers, we will retrieve them and put them to good use among our employees."

Mediacom says they were trying to be a good corporate citizen. Mediacom Manager Gary Crosby said: "We found out that there was a bottleneck in paperwork, that they wanted to streamline."

Mediacom says the money for the laptops was meant to help with the paper problem. But Mayor Adams says Mediacom can't take the computers because they were purchased in June.

The $15,000 from Mediacom arrived in September and is still in the bank. "If there's going to be a big issue about that, or if anybody thinks there's any impropriety, we can simply refund the $15,000," Adams said.

But that's not really what either side wants. "At the end of the day, we just want this whole problem resolved and we move on again," said Crosby.

So now it's up to the city and the city's cable-company provider work out a solution. "There's an issue on the table that we need to resolve and we'll do it through communications," said Crosby.

Critics say the city violated its own ethics rules in the city charter by accepting money from a company it does business with. But the city attorney says the donation is not a violation.

Mediacom's current contract with the city runs through 2011.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com