Elkton Removes Video Streams From Its Web Site

About a year ago, the Mayor & Commissioners took a helpful step toward better sharing of public information when the board agreed to stream one-half of its meetings on the Internet.  To help with that, the town created a web page where the public could go to watch the videos.  While that was a step in the right direction, they failed to go far enough for they were only streaming one-half of the meetings.  The one where the decisions are actually mulled over and discussed, the workshops, weren’t shared online.  We always felt that if the town wanted to increase public awareness of their deliberations they should share those, which is something we’ve stated before.

What has our attention on this matter today is another step that makes it harder for citizens to stay informed.  Earlier this week the town removed all of its archived meeting content from the web site.  Only the July 7th is session is posted on www.elkton.org.  We can’t imagine what caused them to pull those down all at once.  If the goal is to increase community awareness and involvement of public matters in Elkton, which is what Commissioner Jablonski stated when she pushed for the site, why this action.  The labor to do it in these times when Elkton has just recently decided it needs cost-efficiencies has already been expended.  Beyond that the public information in these recording is helpful to citizens trying to stay informed about public matters.  Surely there’s some reason?

Now understand there are workarounds.  Citizens may go to the town hall and file a Freedom of Information Act Request and get DVDs, but they said they wanted to make it easy for citizens to stay informed.   Too, someone once said, “the Internet never forgets.”  Once you put something out there, it’s real easy for someone to pull that material off of YouTube for later use.  Or you can go to YouTube and search for a portion of the material, which remains there (but not all the original postings).

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14 responses to “Elkton Removes Video Streams From Its Web Site

  1. Eline Barclay

    the video streams were better than nothing. why is it so difficult for the town of elkton to do anything?

    • Elaine: You’re right. At least it was half-way there and I complimented them for starting in that direction a year or so ago. But why pull it back down. And they’re so good at getting the timing just right.

  2. Okay – Here’s the solution. Make it obvious to them that they have made a mistake.

    First – Ask them the obvious question — Did they do this intentionally? Let’s not assume it wasn’t a mistake. These things happen. It will help you remain objective.

    And, if it was intentional, follow that up with, why? And, it would be great to get that on audio or video, too. There’s nothing better than hearing them explain themselves in their own words. That way, there’s no “polish” added by someone who can write. They don’t deserve it, so let them use their own words. I want to see them squirm…

    Second – If they tell you it was intentional and try to justify it with “cost cutting,” then you make them wish they had found a better way to cut a few dollars.

    Set up a tripod at only the workshop sessions and either record the session and post a link to it here. Or – really make them squirm and stream it live via http://www.ustream.tv/ – You can do it for free and it’s recorded, too for archived viewing.

    I bet with a little help online from the other bloggers and their readership, you’d develop a fairly popular show.

    And, if that doesn’t get them to change their ways — and it won’t because they’re not wired to admit fault or apologize – take some time to edit some real “gems” of humorous banter -and post them on YouTube.

    I’d subscribe.

    • Wayne:

      Thanks for the suggestions. I followed up with the town’s public affairs person. I’m advised that it is in accordance with the policy that they’ll only leave them posted so long before they pull them down! They did adopt a policy and it said they’d leave them up for 3 months or something like that. Well one meeting isn’t three months or whatever the exact time frame was. Of course, I don’t understand the logic of pulling them back off after they’ve gone to all that trouble. it’s not like they’re gong to fill up the Internet or something and the Internet is good at never forgetting, once you put something out there.

      There are a few workarounds, such as simply going to the town hall and issuing a FOIA request for the DVD, which is the way I did it before they started streaming. It was just convenient to have it all posted there.

      BTW, I’m thinking about this idea of a ENN, the Elkton New Network, as a new public service since the local newspapers still don’t cover the meetings. It’s getting too easy to just capture the video and grab a few outakes with some introductory comments and gee then you’ve got a15 minute or 30 minute summary of what they did, in their own words. I think that would be a valuable service to help keep people informed.

  3. just watching main street

    Yep that’s our joe. But what’s he trying to do now. He said he wanted a more open town.

    • Just Watching Main Street

      I’m not sure what they’re trying to do when they do something like this. And as I said before, they’ve always get the best timing down for doing these things.

      On your point about them saying they want more open government, you’re right. Years ago Mayor Fisona ran on such a platform the first time. He said he was going to create open government in Elkton and get the town on the Internet so people could be easily informed about municipal affairs and easily interact with the town.

      Commissioner Jablonski has picked up that theme lately and served as the advocate for getting the videos going and for twitter. She too said she wanted to create more involvement in by the citizens in town affairs. I’m always curious why they don’t just go ahead and do these things fully. It’s the right thing to do.

  4. Pardon our cynicism, but given the lawsuit the town just lost, perhaps the real target of this action was the famed Dec. ’09 meeting at which the Elkton Senior Housing project and its special fee arrangements were discussed. Just removing that one video would have been too obvious.

  5. I think it would be great to possibly print out something that quotes Commissioner Jablonski when she said that it would promote a more open government.

    If anyone says that it was a “cost saving” measure – as I suspect they will….

    Then – you could ask the obvious – “Can Elkton no longer afford more open government ?” It’s almost a remake of the question that either answer is damning.

    I still say you make them regret ever taunting you with their recent actions. I am anxiously awaiting the video ambushes of local officials as they go into the grocery store…

    “Excuse me, Mayor Fisona… Has anyone sued the Town this week? What’s your opinion on the …. (fill in the blank)… That would be accompanied either by a raised hand and “no comment” — or, better yet, an attempt to answer the questions.

    Either way – I think it would make compelling video!

  6. Crazy Old History Teacher

    It’s obvious to me that the Elkton Mayor and Commissioners are graduates of the Richard Nixon School of Governing!

    • Be still my heart…The Crazy One has returned!

      Seems to me that even Nixon could have learned a few tricks from Fisona and company.

    • Old History Teacher

      Oh I’m not sure about that

      http://someonenoticed.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/missing-video-gap-in-recording-of-may-5th-town-meeting-corrected/

      We guess your speculation is based on the time there was a gap of several minutes in an official video stream of a meeting the town placed on the Internet. When Someone Noticed found part of it was missing and folowed up we were told that there had been a technical glitch and that portion hadn’t recorded. But having watched some pros do this reporting thing we followed up and filed a FOIA to inspect the original. Once we got the original recording, it was right there so we were able to share the missing portion with the public.

      BTW, while we’re noticing things we’ve noticed that you’ve been away from the blogosphere for months. Guess the ssummer heat has you back inside on the computer, providing your unique opinions in the blogosphere.

  7. Hmmm Cecil Times

    Someone Noticed used the town’s video stream to cover those dramatic actions over a couple of meetings and since the town uses YouTube to share the one-half of its public meetings, we were able to link direclty to them.

    There were four or five and they were popular. Now those links are broken since the town pulled them down.

    Of course, there are workarounds. Once someone puts something on YouTube, anyone can pull them off. In addition, a FOIA will get one a copy of the DVD. It just makes it a lot less conveninet for the broader public. The commissioners debated this streaming thing for months and the supporters, such as Commissioner Jablonski, made the point that it created more open government.

    Hmmmm!

  8. What the HELF. What the HELF. Ole Sam for Mayor, that’s what I say.

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