Council May Join TV Talk Show Trend : Thousand Oaks: Panel next week will consider launching an issue-oriented program with the elected officials serving as hosts.


The members of the Thousand Oaks City Council could soon join the ranks of Oprah and Phil.

On Tuesday, they will consider launching their own TV talk show--an issue-oriented program with council members serving as rotating hosts.

Which raises several important questions:

Can Councilman Andy Fox hold a candle to Ricki Lake? Does Councilwoman Judy Lazar have the compassion of Oprah Winfrey?

The program, which staff members suggest would take the snappy name "City Scene" from a now defunct city newsletter, would be taped quarterly, then aired on the local government channel several times a month.

It would be intended to give residents a window onto various issues facing the city. But don't expect topics such as people who spend too much at The Oaks mall. This program will focus on more serious issues.

"There are hundreds of them you could do," Lazar said. "Financial and economic issues, preserving open space for recreational use, public safety. It's endless."

While Lazar said she is no fan of daytime talk shows, she believes a 90-minute television program on issues facing the city could be a valuable educational tool.

"This could be extremely useful," she said. "It's a fine idea. I do think it would be an excellent information tool for the public."

Fox said he wants to see how much city staff time and money would be spent on "City Scene" before endorsing the idea.

"We'll have to see what kind of community benefit we are going to receive," he said. "What I'm not interested in is the council having their own TV program."

Fox said he would be concerned that council members might use the format to tout their favorite issues.

"I would not support any type of debate or controversial item being put on at the will of an individual council member," he said. "I don't think it is appropriate. I don't think a council member should be able to use the airwaves for any issue they want to."

Lazar suggested that members of the public come up with topics for the shows. "City Scene" would be similar in format to a program that Supervisor Frank Schillo used to host, called the "Citizens' Exchange." On that program, Schillo introduced an issue and discussed it with residents he had invited to the show. Since Schillo retired from the council last year, the program has been on hold.

The four council members take turns hosting a weekly radio show on KNGO. They pick their own topics and issues, and tape the shows in the studios.

Zukowski said she would like to use the new television program as a tool for showing residents how city government works.

"I'm hoping that our expanded use of TOTV (the local cable access channel) will give a broader perspective of what contributes to government," she said. "I'd like to see us give attention to volunteers and the longtime business people, the city staffers, the employees that are doing things that people don't even see but that are helping the city run more smoothly."

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