City hiring counsel to negotiate new cable contract

With the 10-year cable franchise agreement with Atlantic Broadband expiring in 2015, the City of Warren has retained special counsel to work on the next contract.

Dan Cohen, of the Pittsburgh-based Cohen Law Group, was approved by Warren City Council at a flat rate of $8,900 to negotiate the next cable franchise agreement.

City Manager Nancy Freenock said the “negotiation of a cable franchise is (a) complex and time-consuming negotiation.”

She said the city’s Finance Committee recommended bringing on special counsel for this purpose and that the agreement nets the city approximately $91,000 per year.

Mayor Maurice Cashman said the amount the city receives “has to do with the number of people that have cable.”

Councilman John Lewis asked why the city isn’t forming a committee to undertake this negotiation. “That’s what we did last time,” he said.”

Councilman Gregory Fraser said that there were “several defects in the last negotiation.”

“Bringing a professional in on this is warranted,” said Cashman.

Freenock suggested the city pursue an audit of the agreement “to see if the city is getting its fair share.”

Fraser said that for the $4,500 cost of the audit, the city “could potentially (get) a 10-time return” but wouldn’t know if the audit wasn’t undertaken.

The agreement passed 6-1 with Lewis in opposition.