The altercation between the employee and CBS reporter Greg Mills took place after about 100 Frontier customers joined a town hall meeting in Long Beach at the Expo Arts Center to express their frustrations to Melinda White, President of Frontier Communication’s West Region.
As Mills approached White as she was exiting the town hall to find out if she could address a few unanswered questions, another Frontier employee is seen pushing the reporter several times before grabbing him by his coat.
According to Mills, the employee then opened his coat to the reporter and pointed to his waistband to imply that he was armed. The employees actions in itself could be constituted as a criminal threat even if no weapon was seen.
California Penal Code section 422(a) states:
422. (a) Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out, which, on its face and under the circumstances in which it is made, is so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat, and thereby causes that person reasonably to be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s safety, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison.
All of this stems from a long and still ongoing battle after some Frontier customers were left without cable, internet, home phone and even 911 service shortly after the company finalized its acquisition of Verizon’s FiOS and DSL operations in California, Florida and Texas on April 1st, 2016.
Since April the Texas Public Utility Commission have received 150 complaints and according to the California Public Utilities Commission they have received 584 complaints. Although at this point its hard to gauge how many customers are truly affected by outages stemming from the acquisition, according to Frontier spokesman Peter DePasquale they represent less than 1% of its 3 million customers.
The Town Hall Meeting
“In theory it was a good idea, get the cable company together with disgruntled customers but customers really wanted action, I got the impression that the cable company wasn’t all that intent on listening to they had to say” — Greg Mills CBS Los Angeles
According to NBC4 reporter Jane Yamamoto, Melinda White (Frontier’s West Region President) did not get a warm welcome, a reporter for the Long Beach Press Telegram described the meeting as rowdy with cheers and boos mixed in but to Frontier’s credit they did send about 2 dozen reps to meet with customers in a separate room although its unclear if any issues were resolved that day.
Throughout the meeting which reportedly lasted an hour, the company’s rep seemed cold and left many customers skeptical, just seconds to the altercation involving her employees with the TV reporter, she initially refused to talk to several reporters and instead told them “We have our media people and you can visit with them”.
So far the company has not publicly commented on the altercation with Greg Mills nor offered an apology but Melinda White did stop briefly stop to answer his questions afterwards, when asked if she thought the problems would be resolved, she responded “yes, absolutely”.
Its clear that this acquisition was poorly planned on Frontier’s part but I have to wonder if the image of a cold, smug company Representative/President surrounded by thugs in suits making a criminal threat and pushing around reporters is an image they want to portray to the public at this juncture, I also wonder if they will threaten to pull ads from the station instead of apologizing to the reporter and looking into the actions of their employees including those of Melinda White.
Noticeably absent from all of this has been the company’s CEO Daniel J. McCarthy who has not made a personal attempt to reach out to customers. Other CEOs of major companies such as T-Mobile and Sprint often communicate with customers directly (despite all of their faults), so there is no valid excuse why McCarthy can’t do the same instead of hiding behind Spokespersons and Regional Presidents.
I will try reaching out to this company myself to get answers regarding the conduct of their employees and I will update you if I get a reply.