The Parsons City Commission should quit fiddling around with discussion on broadcasting its meetings on the local cable channel, or the Internet or anywhere else.
It’s time for a decision and the only decision is to broadcast the meetings. In fact, every public board in the state should do the same.
Equipment is cheap these days and anyone with a smartphone can broadcast video on YouTube and everywhere else with little effort. So surely a government body could do the same with a relatively inexpensive camcorder and a good Internet connection.
While some public meetings may be as exciting as watching paint dry (just watch C-SPAN to prove this point), others may have some interest to the public. It’s the citizens who elected those on government boards to conduct the public business and citizens should have the ability to stream the meeting to their smartphones, iPads or computers if they wish.
Attending these public meetings can be difficult for working people. Dinner, chores, a child’s homework and other events may interfere with attendance.
Broadcasting and storing the video of the meetings online will give these busy working people an option to see what their government bodies are doing.
There’s been some discussion of changing the format of the city commission meetings to limit public comment segments to one at the beginning of the meeting and dropping the latter segment.
This idea may hold merit, but then you silence the man or woman who couldn’t make the opening comment session but could attend later to share a concern.
The Kansas Open Meetings Act, which governs all government boards and committees and promotes openness, does not require public boards to allow public comment at meetings. Many boards do, including the city commission, and that’s good policy.
Sometimes citizens may seem to take advantage of this and use these sessions as their bully pulpits. Enforcing time limits and topic limits could resolve this, sure. But the right to speak out and share opinions and concerns with government is too important to silence.
So let’s bring more light to our democracy. Broadcast city commission and other government meetings, store the broadcasts on public websites and keep the public informed.