The Glen Cove City Council plans to award Verizon a cable franchise, despite complaints by existing provider Cablevision that the newcomer's contract provides less service to customers and less money to the city.
Some council members and residents among the more than 100 at Tuesday night's meeting agreed with Cablevision representatives that the contract was unfair.
The council voted 5-2 to let Mayor Reginald Spinello sign a contract for Verizon FIOS service. The majority of council members and spectators said the highest priority was giving residents a choice and fostering competition that might lower prices.
Verizon agreed in its 12-year contract to provide the same 5 percent franchise fee per customer that Cablevision has paid since gaining the city's first franchise in 1978. But it offered less money for public education projects than Cablevision. And while Cablevision, which owns Newsday, is available throughout Glen Cove, Verizon attorney Paul Trane said there are no plans to wire more than 88 percent of the city.
Cablevision vice president Adam Falk told the council "this agreement is fundamentally unfair." He said Verizon is supplying free cable service to schools and municipal buildings throughout Nassau County, as does Cablevision, but was not offering that to Glen Cove.
He added Cablevision's contract, which expires in 2025, provides $100,000 a year in public education funding to the city while Verizon offered $21,000. When challenged by Spinello, Trane agreed to double the contribution to $42,000, although he maintained, "This agreement meets the standard conditions required by the Public Service Commission" for a level playing field with a competitor.
Residents said they wanted the competition. Jennifer Wade said "a level playing field is that residents are able to choose."
Councilman Anthony Gallo Jr. said, "Choice for the people trumps all the other issues."
But Councilman Timothy Tenke, who with Michael Famiglietti voted no, said, "I'm all for the competition" but overruling Cablevision's complaints would send a bad message to other businesses that might want to relocate to the city.