Men with guns bar QUQ from entering offices
When Erica Jones got to work this morning, she encountered an armed security officer.
“Can I help you?” asked Jones, the community outreach coordinator for Quote ... Unquote, Inc.
“Can I help you?” asked the man, blocking her passage into the building at 519 Central, NW.
Two officers had been posted at QUQ headquarters the night before, one at the front door and one at the back, Jones says. The locks had been changed overnight.
It’s not the first time Jones got a surprise from the city upon arriving to work.
After a long battle, QUQ lost its contract to operate the city’s public access channels, 26 and 27. The nonprofit’s contract was set to expire on Saturday, June 30, and employees have been packing and moving gear, and coordinating volunteer help.
A letter posted on the door this morning explains: “In order to assist in this orderly transition and to protect the significant amounts of equipment the city has provided, the city is releasing Quote ... Unquote, Inc. from its cable programming obligations under the contract and taking possession of city property effective today,” writes City Attorney David Tourek.
Tourek adds in an email to the Alibi that this situation is unique; the city does not typically handle changeovers this way. He says QUQ disputed the ownership of some items in the building, and the city wants to make sure those items aren’t removed before that’s sorted out.
QUQ employees are not allowed inside to collect their belongings until the chief security officer, Mark Shepherd, is present. “This has just been crazy,” says Jones. “There are lots of people outside waiting. We can’t get anything done.” Shepherd declined to comment.
Tourek says property that’s not in dispute and personal items will be moved tomorrow and Thursday.
Jones says the city has already conducted two inventories, so she doesn’t understand the hostility. “It’s totally undignified,” she says. “We could have had prior communication. All of this is unnecessary.”
QUQ is moving into two portables donated by RFK Charter School in the South Valley. The nonprofit will house its operation there and continue to offer media training and video production services. QUQ is still pursuing legal recourse over the loss of its contract.
Loud and Clear
The state of public access TV
The cable board jumped into the fray over the city’s public access TV. Quote ... Unquote, Inc. is fighting to retain the contract it’s held for 30 years, even though the nonprofit is scheduled to hand over the reins to uPUBLIC at the end of March.
Comcast pays the city 40 cents per customer each month for the right to lay line in Albuquerque. The cash goes to fund public, educational or government stations—like public access channel 27 and Encantada TV channel 26. The cable board oversees those funds. But it didn’t have a say in who would be awarded the contract for those channels—and that’s something Martin Ethridgehill, chairman of the cable board, would like to rectify.
So in early January, the board reviewed the applications from QUQ and uPUBLIC, and voted unanimously to back QUQ.
It’s all in the hands of the City Council now. The issue isn’t on tonight’s meeting agenda, but that can change.
Cable Board Speaks Up
Change the Channel
Public access telethon tonight
Quote... Unquote, Inc. will be holding a fundraiser tonight as the media nonprofit prepares to move into a new building. Albuquerque’s community TV champions are looking for cash and gear they may be able to use around the station. Tune in to Channel 27 tonight between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. for entertainment and notable speakers, and chip in if you’ve got some dough to spare. You can also watch the live telethon at quote-unquote.org.