Denver Cable Chief Ousted

City officials here have fired Dean Smits, director of the Office of Telecommunications.

Without comment, Denver’s City Council voted 13-0 on Feb. 23 to oust Smits. The vote became effective the next day, according to minutes from the meeting.

An active member of the regulatory community, Smits serves on the board of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.

Although there was no discussion following the executive session in which Smits’ performance was evaluated, council members had complained during a December meeting that the department hadn’t notified the council about a change in basic-cable rates in a timely manner. Comcast Corp. announced its 2004 rate changes, as well as its plans to shift channel numbers, in December.

Council members were also distressed that the department didn’t officially notify Comcast last summer that it had approved a 63-cent assessment on cable bills to support local-access programming.

Smits’ dismissal means the department’s second in command, Darryn Zuehlke, will oversee an upcoming performance review of Comcast. The city has set a public hearing on the company’s service for March 16.