Adelphia: L.A. Cleanup Is Coming

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Construction managers have assured Los Angeles officials that Adelphia Communications Corp.'s plant here is safe — despite an abandoned upgrade — and that cleanup work will resume this month.

Nonetheless, officials were dismayed to learn June 28 that the Coudersport, Pa.-based company's fee payments were not up to date — even though the bankrupt operator belatedly paid $1.7 million in fees due in March.

The company's bankruptcy restructuring includes provisions to assure future franchise payments to localities. But a representative of the city Department of Water and Power told the commission that Adelphia still owes the utility $217,000 for pole attachments and inspections.

The city is closely monitoring Adelphia's payments and its service. City attorney Rocky Delgadillo has publicly warned the MSO that he would advise the City Council to start revocation proceedings if it falls behind in fee payments, or lets service quality slide.

A falloff in service might be hard to determine, as Adelphia was under the gun for poor performance even before it filed for bankruptcy. Its systems generate about 40 percent of all complaint calls to the city.

CONTRACTORS FIRED

Adelphia was in the process of upgrading its five Los Angeles franchises to digital when all contractors were fired late in May. Only one of the five franchises is even close to completion.

On June 24, the Bureau of Information Technology sent a letter notifying Adelphia of perceived safety violations, such as lines which hung just a few feet off the ground, unsecured pedestals and grounding issues.

As Adelphia executives walked into the meeting, they were presented with pictures of a handful of new violations.

"We have two concerns: safety and service delivery," regional government affairs manager Larry Windsor told commissioners. In July, the company will inspect the plant already in place and, along with in-house staff, correct any problems.

That will occur in "reasonable" time, he said, adding that Adelphia intends to report on its progress late this month. Violations such as hanging plant were attributable to temporary placements by contractors, he said.

"These pictures are of plant dangling within feet of the street. That's not something a contractor who cared would do," chided commissioner Dean Hansell. "That can't be acceptable, not even one day to the next."

All of Los Angeles's cable franchises expire this year, including those held by Adelphia. The commission will decide July 19 whether to extend the company's current franchise, giving Los Angeles more time to negotiate a new deal.

Without an extension, all of Adelphia's franchises will expire by August.

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