Did a story about contaminated waste play dirty?

Equally telling is Benevento's admission that his testy Channel 9 critique wasn't the first letter to a media boss he's placed on the CDPHE website. Last December, he put up a screed addressed to Denver Post editor Greg Moore after the publication of "Water Protection Adrift," a piece by scribes Miles Moffeit and Theo Stein, and he left it online for months. "I'd get comments from other people in the newsroom about it still being there," Moffeit recalls. "It really surprised me he kept it up for so long." Benevento subsequently demanded, and got, a sit-down with the Post editorial board, and in January, the paper published a second letter, in which he attacked the article in vague terms and defended his department. Nevertheless, the Post refused to apologize for anything in its article, which appeared mere months prior to the resignation of water quality control division head Mark Pifher, and Channel 9 isn't backpedaling, either. News director Patti Dennis, who was among the attendees at the October 19 summit with Benevento, characterizes Sherman's effort as "accurate and fair," and confirms that no retraction is forthcoming.

Meanwhile, Benevento is ruminating about other things he can tack on to the growing Channel 9 section of the CDHPE website -- maybe even a link to the website of Canyon Area Residents for the Environment, a Lookout Mountain-area group promoting the theory that broadcast radiation causes cancer. "I would think that the radiation from Lookout Mountain would be significantly higher than the lightly contaminated soil from the School of Mines," he asserts. "But 9News isn't investigating that."

Access denied again: In early September, the Denver City Council voted to stop financially supporting Denver Community Television, the organization charged with running the area's public-access channels. Approximately six weeks later, on October 18, Boulder councilwoman Robin Bohannan went her Denver peers one better. She offered a so-called "friendly amendment" to halt payments to Community Access Television, which oversees Channel 54, Boulder's access provider, as of December 31. The proposal, which provided for equipment to be mothballed for as long as two years, passed 6-2, effectively killing Channel 54.

Deborah Sherman has experienced fallout from her 
story on radioactive soil.
Anthony Camera
Deborah Sherman has experienced fallout from her story on radioactive soil.

CATV executive director Andrew Bergey, still reeling from what he calls "being laid off in public," confirms that if Channel 54 remains dark for an extended span, Comcast, Boulder's cable service, can contractually demand its return without compensating the city. Right now, the council is soliciting ideas, and those floated so far include using the gear for an Internet service or simply selling it off before its value vanishes. As for producers, Bergey says, "They're still processing everything, but they're upset that this time, it's for sure."

Clearly, public-access TV isn't a growth industry.

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