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Split Decision

by Olivia Rutt and Jaime Myslik

Video recorded council meetings

Good step

Puslinch is the latest municipality in Wellington County to move forward with video recording its council meetings.

Starting off with the basic, inexpensive option of uploading to YouTube, council meetings will now be available to anyone who would like to watch.

Having video recordings of meetings will allow council to be more “open and transparent,” qualities that all councils claim to strive for.

Recording the meetings for broadcast will allow interested citizens to see how a councillor voted on an issue and why. These details are rarely recorded in meeting minutes.

In fact, meeting minutes are sparse, and most of the discussion is omitted. How a council votes is recorded only when one councillor requests it.

Councillors should not be afraid of being broadcast. They should be behaving the same way in a video recorded meeting as they do when only us reporters are present.

Why should councillors be afraid of how they are perceived by the people that put them in power in the first place?

Broadcasting meetings will allow Puslinch council to bring the government to the people. It allows councils to open their doors to  procedures that few know about, let alone understand.

If it turns out no one tunes in, no biggie. Local journalists like us here at the Advertiser will be there to report on it anyway.

– Olivia


VS.


Waste of money

A number of local municipalities are jumping on the video train, with Puslinch being the most recent to give staff the go-ahead to record every council meeting.

Where’s the appeal?

A common argument is that video recordings keep councillors more accountable and transparent.

But how? Constituents are expected not only to watch recorded council meetings but then follow-up with their representative if they have questions.

First of all, municipal council meetings don’t make great television. They are full of complicated jargon and mundane legislated activities that really only matter to the parties involved. On the occasion that something juicy does happen, chances are the council chamber is full for a firsthand account.

Second, in a society that values convenience, how likely is it that constituents will make time to watch a meeting online if they won’t go to a council meeting in person?

Third, even if there’s the slim chance an audience is watching, how can they ask questions and actually hold councillors accountable when they’re not even in the same building?

While recording meetings is often touted as a way to be more transparent, it may just be a way to appear more accountable, knowing full well no one will be watching.

Taxpayer money should be put to better use than recording equipment gathering dust in the corner.  

– Jaime

Vol 50 Issue 30

 
 

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