Coming Soon to a Screen Near You, the Mayor and Commissioners — Perhaps

The Mayor and Commissioners of Elkton periodically play to a practically empty house while transacting the public’s business and on the average evenings there’s only a small cluster of citizens present to observe the town board. From time to time a special issue will pack the house, but that’s rare.

Giving the ease with which streaming audio or video can be shared in the 21st century Commissioner Mary Jo Jablonski has proposed the town start broadcasting its meetings on the net. This would allow individuals to stay informed about the actions of municipal government. We first heard her recommend this back in 2008, and she has brought it up periodically since that time. At a meeting last month, she was once again serving as an advocate for this 21st century idea, which would make Elkton government more open and accessible to a larger group of citizens. When discussions occur about digital delivery of the town meetings, a variety of ideas are discussed. These include live streaming on the Net, archiving the digital video on a web hosting site so it can be screened at the viewer’s pleasure, or just broadcasting the audio.

We think Commissioner Jablonski’s idea is a good one. The town has changed and grown significantly over the past few decades and many of the new residents commute out of town for work. Putting video or audio of the meetings on the net would be a step that would increase awareness of municipal actions and we completely concur with the proposal. The technology is not difficult for we can do it right here on this web site if we wanted to, so it is a practical and cost effective. Thank you Commissioner Jablonski for proposing this progressive step and for continuing to serve as an advocate for making access to meeting conveniently available to a broad audience. Hopefully someday we’ll see the town take a step in this direction. It would be a valuable service for the public and many governmental agencies do exactly that. Cecil County government, as an example, makes the audios of its meeting available on its web site.

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4 responses to “Coming Soon to a Screen Near You, the Mayor and Commissioners — Perhaps

  1. Providing streaming audio and video of public meetings is a great idea; an idea that every level of government should consider. Keeping the public informed with accessible first-hand accounts of governmental activity is an important element of good government. Figuratively speaking, the more light the better.

  2. Streaming town meetings is a fantastic idea and to Mary Jo thank you. It is sometimes not too easy to get to the meetings, so being able to see them at home is great and informative. Thank you Mary Jo and keep up the good job of watching out for the residents.

  3. Milt:

    Thanks for posting. As you say, “the more light the better.” This proposal is particularly important with municipal meetings, since those meetings haven’t received much coverage traditionally and now it is non-existent. It would provide a way to inform citizens since print media isn’t doing that.

  4. Joan:

    I agree, it is a “fantastic idea,” especially since lots of citizens can easily stay informed. I’ve always found that the more informed the citizenry is the better the local government.

    The problem is that in Elkton new proposoals get hung up for some reason and they just go around and around without resolution. Comm Jablonski has a great idea, it is cost effective, and it will allow more people to stay informed. Too, she’s familiar with all these new web 2.0 technologies since that was the focus of the Main Street Manager’s Conference in Chicago this year, so she’s aware of the latest capabilities.

    However, you’ll notice that she’s the one advocating this idea and she has to keep bringing it up periodically to keep it on the front burner. I don’t hear a lot of support from others in the board. But, again, that’s typical of most administrative proposals suggested by the commissioners, they somehow get tangled up and nothing ever happens. For example, they ordered the establishing of a purchasing process well over a year ago. Comm. Storke periodically asks about the status of implementing that board order, and again there is no resolution.

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