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Technicality dooms petition to block sale of Groton cable company

Groton — A petition calling for a halt to the sale of Thames Valley Communications has been rejected on technical grounds on the advice of the city's attorney.

City Mayor Marian Galbraith, a proponent of the sale, said the petition did not contain the full text of the ordinance approved by a vote of the City Council. That vote initially approved sale of TVC to CTP Investors, LLC, a private investment management firm.

The city plans to sell the municipally-owned cable and Internet service, a subsidiary of Groton Utilities, for $150,000 because of multi-million dollar annual losses.

While the petition contains the exact language used for the resolution voted on by the City Council at the Nov. 19 meeting, it apparently does not contain the language of the entire ordinance. The City Charter says "said petition shall contain the full text of the ordinance to be repealed."

The petition, with the then-required 20 certified signatures, was filed on Wednesday. However, charter revisions that took effect on Thursday require significantly more signatures before a petition may be considered. The revised charter states that a petition must be signed "by qualified electors of the city equal in number to at least five percent of the electors registered at the last regular municipal election."

Mike Boucher, a city resident who submitted the petition and gathered the signatures, said he was disappointed the petition was not accepted.

"The problem doesn't go away," Boucher said. "If I have to go out and get 200 to 250 signatures, that's not a problem. It's more work on my part but I want to see what's best for TVC employees."

Boucher said he and other residents have asked for a delay in the sale because of too many unanswered questions about TVC finances and the suddenness of the city's decision to sell the company at a bargain price.

Galbraith said she is researching answers to the many questions raised about TVC at recent public meetings, but said the sale is in the best interests of the city.

"We cannot continue to run TVC," she said.

A final City Council vote on the sale is scheduled for Dec. 17.


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