City Clerk Vander Clay and City Manager Richards maintain the $4,000 annual fee for video streaming the public meetings at city hall is too much to pay for government transparency. They apparently defied a council directive and decided on their own to remove our access to viewing public meetings from our homes.
City Clerk Lori Vander Clay’s legal requirements for minutes is primarily to only record resolutions and votes by the council, giving her a great deal of power. Informative public discourse is not recorded unless Vander Clay makes a personal decision to include it – based on her personal preferences. There are many important community issues presented at public meetings that never make it into Vander Clay’s minutes. Richards’ and Vander Clay’s decision to stop broadcasting the meetings ensure nobody but the handful of people who attend the meeting will ever hear what actually takes place at them. Lies are lies, and their decision is about retaining power because knowledge is power and has nothing to do with cost.
With new technology, live streaming is cheap and City Manager Richards and City Clerk Vander Clay should be trying to increase transparency not eliminate it. Below are comments from two blog readers that debunk the misinformation by city employees.
New Buffalo Blog reader John stated. ‘As a going on 4 year resident in NB, I really appreciate your blog. and FYI, you can easily record city council meeting with a webcam and laptop, a decent microphone and a cheap USB audio interface will give you very detailed audio. If i was doing it ( I have been a professional audio engineer for over 20 years) I use 2 different pieces of software to record it so the audio and video are saved separately, the only catch is to do it right someone would need to physically operate it , the hardware and software costs not including the laptop could be had for $1000.00 the majority cost being a decent microphone. not sure on the human cost, but you could probably find some good taxpaying Samaritan who owns all this stuff who’d do it for free……’. (As a public service, John might be very helpful)
New Buffalo Blog reader Greg stated. ‘Susan,
they wouldn’t need media level equipment, the mics and soundboard are your biggest costs, mid-tier hardware will last years as long as it’s taken care of and the cost would not be outlandish, maybe $1000 if they shop around. The cameras shouldn’t cost more than $100 to $150 each. People are putting out HD quality content using Logitech webcams, tablets and phones. Domain registration if needed is $12 a year, hosting/storage services can be found for as low as $10 a month, cheaper if you pay annually, or Youtube or Facebook Live for basically nothing.
Below is the Youtube presentation of the Dearborn Heights Council meeting. Note that the content of the discussions, presentations, comments, and debate would not make it to Vander Clay’s official minutes in New Buffalo. This democracy in action allows Dearborn Heights’ citizens to view the meeting live or store it for future viewing and share on Facebook. We deserve the same amount of respect for our right to transparency. The New Buffalo City Council should gather up their courage and overrule the staff. Do the right thing for the public.