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December 21, 2014

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Boulder City Council candidate threatens lawsuit over campaign video

Bill Smith says city wrongfully refused to play his campaign video on BCTV

Bill Smith

Bill Smith

A Boulder City Council candidate is threatening to sue the city because he was denied airtime on the city's public-access television station.

Bill Smith said the city unjustly refused to play his 26-minute campaign tape on BCTV. "It is my intent to employ an attorney and petition the court to rule that the city has no right to refuse my program," he said in an e-mail to the Boulder City News.

Smith, a former city councilman, is one of nine candidates running for seats being vacated by Councilman Mike Pacini, who cannot run again because of term limits, and Councilwoman Andrea Anderson, who is retiring.

Early voting in the primary election starts Saturday. The April 7 primary election will pare the nine candidates to four for the June general election ballot.

On Monday, Smith's videographer Nicky Collins gave the campaign tape, titled "A conversation with Bill Smith," to Rose Ann Miele, the city's public information officer, to air on BCTV. Miele is the acting studio coordinator.

She told Collins and Smith she couldn't play the tape because it is considered an advertisement, and the city's policy always has been not to air candidates' individual videos.

"In eight years, I've never seen individual candidates do individual pieces to air on BCTV," Miele said. "There is no problem if you put a forum on TV. Bill has been the only one who presented me with a DVD."

City Resolution 3050, enacted in 1997, says any citizen can submit programming to BCTV, but the city can restrict programming containing advertising material. It also says the city cannot endorse a candidate for office.

City Attorney Dave Olsen said BCTV airs candidate forums when all the candidates have been invited but does not "allow a candidate to promote his own agenda."

He said candidates Cam Walker and Duncan McCoy had asked to air their own programs, and the city denied those requests as well.

Olsen told Smith in an e-mail that playing the tape would be giving him "special consideration that was denied by the City to others."

Smith, in a return e-mail, told Olsen he will ask a judge to decide. "Sorry to say, you very likely will have the opportunity to defend this opinion in court," Smith said.

Cassie Tomlin can be reached at [email protected] or 948-2073.

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