Brian Meyer reports today that Darius Pridgen, the newly seated Ellicott District Council member, is pushing for the Common Council to live stream all its public meetings online. That way, the public could watch all the action as it unfolds, from the comfort of their own home or office.
"[Streaming] creates direct citizen access to decisions, discussions and the direction of government officials,” Pridgen said in a resolution he sponsored in his first week after taking the oath of office.
Staffers say they have the equipment to live stream meetings and are working on testing it to see how feasible it would be, Meyer reports.
“This is 2011. It’s time to move forward so that people don’t necessarily have to come to these chambers but can still be instantly involved in government,” Pridgen said.
Meanwhile, a few floors away at City Hall, it's a different story over at the Board of Education. There, residents tend to need a stroke of luck if they hope to see a meeting as it unfolds.
Much of the real work happens at committee meetings, which are held the first and third Wednesday of each month. That's when you're most likely to see board members and administrators engaged in lengthy, often substantive discussions and debates. (While regular board meetings are broadcast a fe days later on public access TV, committee meetings are not videotaped and are never broadcast.)
Committee meetings start at 5 p.m. and often run for four hours.
But if you happen to show up a few minutes late -- well, good luck getting into the building. The doors to City Hall are locked right around 5 p.m.
Not exactly a good way to get people involved in government, when you lock them out.
Things are a little better on the second and fourth Wednesdays, when the board holds its regular meetings. On those days, one of the doors at City Hall remains unlocked until at least 5:30 p.m., and there's often someone posted at the desk in the lobby a little later in the evening, as well.
But again, if you work late and hope to catch the tail end of the meeting -- well, good luck getting in.
(Board members don't have to worry about getting into the building on days they arrive late. Each of them has a special access card that enables them to get into City Hall after hours.)
So, while the Common Council explores ways of bringing their meetings to the people, maybe the Board of Ed should start by exploring ways of enabling the people to get into the meetings.
- Mary Pasciak