Will City Council stop broadcasting and recording commission meetings?
February 21, 2023
Dear City Council Members,
I am writing in regard to agenda item 3F “Terminate COVID Local Emergency.” Please pull this item from the consent calendar so you can discuss how this will change commission meetings and consider directing staff to propose methods for continuing to broadcast and record commission meetings.
While COVID had many negative impacts on our community an unexpected benefit was forcing us to rethink how we held our public meetings. Though the first City Council meeting was some what rocky with the “Zoom Bombers” in the end Zoom meetings created a great benefit for commissions and the public. Thanks to holding Zoom meetings it was easier for the public to attend commission meetings in real time and once the City began making the recordings available on the City website, it meant the public was able to watch meetings after the fact too. This created a excellent example of open government.
Further, Staff reported that having the recordings from the meetings aided greatly in writing accurate minutes for Commission meetings. Considering at times in the past the city website has lacked minutes for past meetings even over several years times, having the video of meetings raised the bar for public access to public meetings in Davis.
Now with the local emergency order ending I have learned from staff that there is no plan to continue broadcasting or recording many commission meetings. Letting this opportunity for public access fall to the wayside would be a mistake.
I believe the City of Davis can continue to broadcast commission meetings and archive recordings at relatively moderate costs. For several commissions the meetings can take place in conference rooms and standard conference room teleconferencing systems are sufficient to allow staff to continue to broadcast commission meetings over zoom. This would also allow staff to continue to use zoom to record these meetings.
One question you may ask is does this mean remote commenters must be supported in the future? Using zoom to broadcast and record meetings does not necessitate making remote public comments available, but the council could decide to continue to allow this. There certainly is merit to allowing remote public comment for commission meetings in order to increase public opportunities to comment for people who cannot come to a meeting in person. Whether the council chooses to allow for public comment or not is certainly worthy of council discussion and a good reason to pull this item from the consent calendar for Council consideration.
In closing let me again ask the council to pull item 3F and direct staff to provide options for continuing to broadcast and record City of Davis Commission meetings. Continuing the enhanced public access discovered under the emergency order is certainly worth council and staff consideration.
Vice-chair of the Tree Commission speaking for myself.
I sent the following to all of the council members on February 13th:
Good day council members,
I would really appreciate continuing to have all commission meetings available online for the public. I enjoyed watching more than a dozen commission meetings over the past 3 months from where they were uploaded on Youtube. I was able to listen to the recordings when I had free time on vacation and also when driving around in my car.
These videos were the single best method I've ever encountered for learning about what affects our community.
Someone recently told me this treasure trove of public videos was only available due to adapting to the pandemic and that the online uploads are going to cease.
I believe Connor Gorman and others I've recently communicated with agree that more public accessibility to commission meetings would be a great asset for those who like learning about our community and participating in its betterment.
Thank you for your consideration.
Posted by: Aaron Wedra | February 21, 2023 at 05:05 PM
One unanticipated advantage of recording the commission meetings is that they are on You Tube which also provides simultaneous transcription. This is a great advantage for those of us whose hearing in diminished. Unfortunately, the city has declined to place council and planning commission meetings on You Tube, and the service they use does not provide transcription. I think most residents would agree that council and planning are the most important committees, but for some perverse reason, the council refuses to move their recording to You Tube or some other channel that also provides transcription. I have communicated this concern to the council and my council member, Gloria Partida, but to no avail. The city would save money by paying for only one cloud service, but they should discontinue the one that doesn't provide transcription, not the one that does. Why the council wants to diminish rather than expand public participating in local governance is a mystery.
Posted by: George Galamba | February 21, 2023 at 05:19 PM
The equity created by recording all commission meetings is significant. The idea of excluding every community member who cannot or who does not wish to attend a meeting in person (for whatever reason) now seems so wildly inappropriate and just *wrong.*
I can't even count the times in the past few years that I was able experience a commission meeting after realizing that I'd missed or even knew in advance that a conflict would prohibit me from attending. Let's not throw away all of the *advantages* that we learned due to the pandemic!
Posted by: Darell | February 21, 2023 at 05:50 PM
CW, thanks for noting this change and writing to the Council. I fully concur.
This issue is arising in my workplace, groups I am part of, pretty much everywhere. The way to go is hybrid: allow people to attend in person or remotely, and allowing viewing afterward.
The momentum already occurred. Now that we are back in person, those who will excel are those who go hybrid.
Posted by: Alan C. Miller | February 21, 2023 at 06:03 PM
Also . . . it's good for the environment if a person that was going to take a car -- does not.
Posted by: Alan C. Miller | February 21, 2023 at 06:04 PM
Did it get pulled? I was looking at the moon.
Posted by: Alan C. Miller | February 21, 2023 at 09:13 PM
Excellent comments everyone.
The item was pulled tonight and after some back and forth with staff, city council directed staff to look into continuing recording and broadcasting commission meetings.
Posted by: Colin walsh | February 21, 2023 at 09:16 PM
Moon + Venus + Jupiter last night = amazing
Posted by: Roberta L. Millstein | February 22, 2023 at 09:01 AM
That's why I wasn't at the Council meeting. Stars over Council.
Tonight Jupiter will be off the tip of the crescent moon, with Venus below.
Posted by: Alan C. Miller | February 22, 2023 at 11:43 AM
Ooh, thanks, I will check it out. I agree with your priorities.
Posted by: Roberta L. Millstein | February 22, 2023 at 01:29 PM