Friday, July 10, 2009

Ogden City Council Meetings on TeeVee and/or The Web? Yes, Yes, Yes

Lets make this proposal a reality before the end of the summer

Tantalizing Scott Schwebke story in this morning's Standard-Examiner, on a topic which is near and dear to our Weber County Forum hearts. At last night's council work session, Boss Godfrey made an offer to share some time on the city-operated Godfrey Propaganda Channel (Comcast Cable Channel 17,) and to provide city council session video broadcasts to eager Ogden lumpencitizens, straight from the city council chambers. Mr. Schwebke's lead paragraphs provide the gist:
OGDEN -- Mayor Matthew Godfrey urged the city council during a Thursday night work session to allow its meetings to be broadcast on Ogden Channel 17.
Godfrey said the public has a right to watch gavel-to-gavel, unedited coverage of council meetings on the Comcast Cable channel to grasp how local government works.
"It's good for the general public to see," he said after the meeting. [Emphasis added].
Read Mr. Schwebke's full story here:
The story goes on to recite some of the historical obstacles which have prevented such broadcasts in the past, and further sets forth the few relatively trivial remaining hurdles which need to be dealt with in order to make the video broadcasting of Ogden City council sessions a reality. Nevertheless, we're delighted to be able to say that we agree with Mayor Godfrey 100% on this (which is possibly a newsworthy story in and of itself,) and that we believe that implementation of this proposal would be a giant step forward in promoting transparency in Ogden City government.

Yes, we hope the council and administration will get this done. And we'll add that we believe that the more venues in which such broadcasts can be made available, the healthier it will be for the Emerald City body politic. The implementation of this proposal would most certainly be a boon to the many Ogden citizens who can't make it over to city city hall every time a hot button issue comes up on the council calendar, we believe.

Live streaming Channel 17 broadcasts? Taped delays? YouTube style videos available on demand from the Ogden City and/or Std-Ex websites? All of these are great ideas; and we'll add that we see no reason that any of these options should necessarily be regarded as mutually exclusive.

Yes, yes, yes. Lets put this project on the front burner, and make this most excellent proposal a reality before the end of the summer.

And what say our gentle readers about all this?

24 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

Agreed, an excellent idea, way too long in coming.

I did notice two things: (a) Hizzonah's sudden interest in getting the meetings aired, in a transparent attempt to paint the Council as the problem (b) Channel 17s admitting that in fact the Council approached it about putting the meetings on the air many many months ago, but the former "All Godfrey, All Geiger, All The Time Channel" wasn't interested. Now, suddenly, it is.

We can conclude from this that Hizzonah, or his handlers, have decided that it would now be in their interest to have Council proceedings made available on TV. Interesting. And irrelevant. The Council meeting, our government in action, should be available on cable, regardless of who thinks it will help or hurt them. The Council should move on this. Quickly. Tape delay showing w/in 24 hours and several times subsequently is OK.

The SE also plans to put tape of the meetings up on its website. Also a good idea. The Council should move on this as well. Fast.

Council Chair Amy Wicks told the SE that she'd prefer the meetings to be available on the City's website rather than Channel 17. She is wrong about this. Incredible though it may seem to many of the policy wonk geeks here assembled, a significant number of people [older ones for the most part] do not have computers in their homes. Limiting access to meeting tapes to internet is not a good idea. Cable access will expand the number of people who can watch if they wish, significantly. Put the link on the city website as well, of course. But not to the exclusion of Channel 17's access.

There need to be a few terms and conditions. Two in particular. If Channel 17 is granted access, it must agree to air the meetings (a) in their entirety, and (b) without comment. No editing. No stop-and-start with comment included. [Post meeting commentary would be fine. But the meetings themselves must air in full, and without comment.] The SE must agree to the same terms for putting the meetings up on its website. I can't think of any reason either Channel 17 or the SE would refuse those conditions.

Finally, a suggestion to the Council and its staff, particularly Mr. Cook. The SE story reports as follows:

There are also several legal issues that need to be addressed before the meetings can be televised, said Bill Cook, the council's executive director. He did not specify the nature of those issues.

No, Mr. Cook. You don't get to tell the SE there are "legal issues that need to be addressed before the meetings can be televised," and then refuse to state what those legal issues are. Leave obfuscatory vagueness to the Mayor. He's better at it than you are. If you tell the press there are "legal matters" holding things up, then you are obligated [full disclosure principle] to tell us [the public] via the press what those matters involve.

All the options described in the story are good ones. All should be implemented. Fast.

And we can now all spend the weekend wondering why an administration whose hallmark has been the backroom deal, and whose natural habitat has been the darkened corner, now suddenly wants the Council's meetings on TV. Veddy interesting....

The Council should move on this. Now.

althepal said...

I'm one of those people whose schedule prevents me from attending council meetings, which, in my experience are far from "snooze fests".

I particularly regret having missed the opportunity to have been in attendance the last time Mayor Godfrey blew his top; and would have appreciated the opportunity to have been able to view that session via channel 17 or my desktop computer.

Yes, yes, yes is right! The council should immediately step on this before Godfrey realizes his error and changes his mind.

Neil Hansen said...

All the legislatures meetings and their house floors debates on the internet, So now is the time to have all the city council meetings on the net too. This should include the work sessions also.

Dan S. said...

I suspect that the "legal issues" have to do with ensuring that Channel 17 will not be selective in its coverage (due to its control by the mayor).

Remember two years ago when they taped the first debate between Godfrey and Van Hooser (without telling Van Hooser in advance), then aired the debate over and over again, then said they were too busy to tape the second debate?

The council really needs to pass a comprehensive ordinance governing city-controlled public communications: Channel 17, web site, newspaper ads, utility bill inserts, etc. The mayor routinely uses all these for both legislative lobbying and thinly disguised electioneering. That needs to stop.

blackrulon said...

Will this allow debates between candidates for city office to be telivised? What about other viewpoints on issues pushed by the mayor? I am remembering all of the pro gondola television that was shown on channel 17.

Danny said...

Dittos Dan,

There is no way Godfrey wants to open the doors and windows. What he does want is access to video that he can slice and dice to further misrepresent and deceive the public.

And as far as Godfrey toady, Bill Francis, the guy who puts all that CRAP on Channel 17, saying people would be bored with council meetings - PUHLEEZE! Like the roving mike with some jackball that they put on isn't boring?

The city council should be very careful. Better yet, they should totally take over Channel 17 or totally de-fund it. Godfrey games the system enough already without having his own TV channel.

City council - take control of Godfrey's media spending or better yet DE-FUND it!!!

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:

The meetings are public meetings of an elected body. The Mayor or anyone else is free, and should be, to take clips of the currently available sound recordings of the meetings and use them as they wish. I see nothing wrong with the Mayor or anyone else using clips from a public meeting for campaign purposes or other [legal] purposes. That's what the press does, after all. Believing Hizzonah wants video clips of Council meetings for campaign purposes is no reason to not air them.

The Channel 17 guy said he was worried that citizens in the public comment portion fo the meetings might start posturing and performing to get on TV. A greater problem I suspect will be that Council members being fully aware the cameras are rolling and crafting their statements accordingly. The other potential problem [and this may have something to do with the Mayor and his pet TV Station have very suddenly becoming supporters of an idea they wanted nothing to do with before] is this: Council members are part-timers. They have limited staff. Hizzonah is the full-time Mayor with an extensive staff at his disposal. Hence, presentations by him, or his designated sock-puppet-du-jour [probably Pureheart Patterson] or his plants in the public comments portions of the meetings [think G-Train] may have extensively prepped presentations done for them, to which Council members will have to respond off the cuff.

Nevertheless, the public benefit from putting Council meetings on the tube and internet far outweighs potential downside considerations. The Council should move on this. Fast.

Danny said...

Curm,

Once again you state the obvious while missing the point.

Yes, it would be nice to see council meetings. Posting them in full on the internet would be nice. Personally, if people see them in full, they would see members of the public routinely killing Godfrey's paid hacks.

Yes, Godfrey can slice and dice things as can anybody else.

WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT HERE is using TAXPAYER MONEY to fund a propaganda outlet for Godfrey and giving him another way to FURTHER SLANDER THE COUNCIL by DISTORTING THEIR COMMENTS as he routinely does.

The council should not submit council meetings to Godfrey's corrupt staff to slice and dice on his taxpayer propaganda channel.

They should post meetings in full, or not at all. And they should kill all of Godfrey's propaganda outlets - Ch 17, newspaper ads, water bill inserts, etc. The council should take charge or kill them all.

Wm III said...

Buffalo John: Say Council, what time is it?
Council: It's Mayor Godfrey Time!

It's Mayor Godfrey time.
It's Mayor Godfrey time.
Buffalo John and Mayor Godfrey
Say howdy do and want you to see.
Let's give a rousing cheer,
Cause Mayor Godfrey's here,
It's time to start the show,
So c'mon Council let's go!

Give credit where it's due ... this is a great idea ...

Danny said...

It still bugs me how, right before his re-election, Godfrey sent out an insert in the water bill saying, "The Junction, a Good Deal for Ogden", together with financial data that was TOTAL BS!

. . . and all looking very official.

It was pure campaigning with taxpayer money. It still steams me.

cole said...

i think that the city council meeting should begin with a prayer during these difficult times. enemies overseas and right next door, famine and pestilence, and godless persons trying to over throw our government, and trying to shame our very mayor. lets all get the city council to begin the meetings with prayer, it will set a good example for the kids, especially with it being broadcast and all. they could let everyone who wanted to have a turn, even the jews and muslims. thank you.

more nutjobs on WCF said...

Yes cole! and after that, the council should sacrifice a Ram! And Drink its blood!

LOL! Are you for real?

You gotta be another troll!

SHEESH!

Curmudgeon said...

Danny:

Sorry, Danny. I don't think I've missed anything in re: this matter. From my post above:

There need to be a few terms and conditions. Two in particular. If Channel 17 is granted access, it must agree to air the meetings (a) in their entirety, and (b) without comment. No editing. No stop-and-start with comment included. [Post meeting commentary would be fine. But the meetings themselves must air in full, and without comment.]

The meetings are public. If aired on cable, the airing is public. And the Mayor, you, I, or the first six guys we meet in the street can take whatever part of what's aired they like to campaign with... for a candidate, for an idea, for a policy, or whatever other [legal] purpose they like.

TLJ said...

Danny,

The citizenry of Ogden deserves to see, as in a public broadcast, council meetings; they should know how Godfree acts and reacts to comments from council members and citizens alike. They really need to know first hand what his temper tantrums are like, then maybe everyone would understand what only a select few of us know for certain -- he should not be in the office for which he was elected, if only for his immature behavior, let alone the underhanded shenanigans he keeps feeding the council through his paid mouthpieces, and having "cured" by his lawyer-in-my-pocket ...

TLJ

George K said...

Many of the posters above, Curmudgeon, Dan, Danny and TLJ, make some very good and astute observations and comments.

But after being made to look like fools for taking the administration at its word on a number of occasions, you can't blame the Council for proceeding slowly. It's sad, but they must look at what's behind Godfey's change of heart, and there legal matters to consider and resolve.

I commend them for crossing their T's and dotting their I's concerning this matter. We know that for years, the Council has encouraged broadcasting Council Meetings, so I think that we can safely say that they want the meetings broadcast, but done correctly.

One has to wonder why just before the election of four council members the Mayor is suddenly pushing the airing of Council Meetings. What is his ulterior motive?

Amy Wicks said...

Curm,

Believe it or not, Mr. Schwebke did not report the full story (because he left the room) and only included part of my comments regarding the issue. He also misreported what was said at our Council worksession last night. There seems to be a misunderstanding that I do not want the City Council meetings aired on Channel 17.
I am fully supportive of having the meetings air from gavel to gavel on Comcast Cable Channel 17.
At the meeting, I brought up the issue of providing the video via internet as well- on the Ogden City website (not www.ogden.cc or www.standard.net) for the many Ogden City citizens who do not subscribe to Comcast cable. I believe that our City Council meetings are an important governmental function and official recordings need to be hosted on the city website along with agendas, minutes and audio recordings. I don't think it's appropriate for a third party website with ads, editorial content and a million other unrelated items to host the meetings online. They can link all they want.

What Mr. Schwebke failed to report was further discussion about a worksession in the next few weeks to discuss Ogden City Council meeting recording policy.

Some of the details we need to address before moving forward are: content, ensuring recording quality, any legal issues, responsibility for the actual recording, council staff and city recorder office involvement, responsibility to ensure all meetings are posted online and aired in a timely manner and costs involved.

Two years ago, the City Council explored options to air the meetings. Administration informed us that the costs were too high. We then looked into vendors that provide City Council recording systems/services and found the cost to be unreasonable as well. Some of the systems were quite sophisticated where agendas are posted with the recording and you can skip through the meeting video to discussion on each agenda item and others were simple but all were a bit unreasonable in cost, especially when you consider we have been forced to drastically cut budgets in every department, including essential services in recent years.

It's my understanding that the Chief Administrative Officer and Mayor have sole responsibility for content on Channel 17 and Mr. Francis carries out their programming wishes.

Now, it's reported that when the issue was first brought up two years ago, Mr. Francis apparently unilaterally decided to not air the Council meetings using what I assume to be his currently offered reasonably priced service because the thought the meetings would be "snoozefests".

The Council was informed of the meetings being recorded just minutes before the meeting was to start and only when our staff started asking questions after being asked for access to the control room.

There are some issues that have to be ironed out first. We hope to do this soon so the meetings can be available both on Channel 17 and online.

Curmudgeon said...

Amy:

Thanks for the clarification, particularly the point about your favoring internet access in addition to cable access, not instead of cable access.

In light of which, my apologies for the criticism above. It was based on the SE story which was, apparently, so incomplete as to be downright misleading with respect to your statements. Not one of the paper's better days, evidently.

OgdenLover said...

I have tried several times to find the approved minutes of past Council meetings on the Ogden City website. Even though it looks as if you could download them, it doesn't happen. We need to either have Council meetings (and perhaps Planning Commission meetings) aired for the public on Ch. 17 or we need to pull out entirely and stop pouring money into Comcast's pockets for access to the channel.

ozboy said...

Don't know what's up with the Ogden City blog site of Ogden City Mayor Mathew Godfrey.

Tried to make comments on it and it totally ignores me!

What I wanted to say/ask - on the publicly owned city web site that my tax dollars help support - is:

Mayor Godfrey

What do you know about FANURE,
and when did you know it?

monotreme said...

Ozboy:

The city-owned blog, like the water bills, Channel 17 and advertisements in the S-E, is used to give the Little People Mayor Godfrey's most excellent worldview.

It has been noted in an earlier "discussion" thread on the Mayor's blog that Cindy Mansell is the blog administrator. Presumably, she prints them out and takes them to The Most High and Excellent Mayor for his personal approval before they may be posted.

We, the Little People, are assured that Mayor Godfrey reads each and every one.

As far as actually answering the questions asked, there's not so much of that going on. Blake Fowers and Thaine Fisher will answer your questions, but not the mayor.

Blake will also answer your questions over on the Junction City News blog. You can also get Blake's worldview by subscribing to ISPY on Facebook. He's so addled that he actually reproduced a fairly derogatory drawing of the mayor, in king's robes five sizes too large, to illustrate a story full of glowing praise.

And of course, there's the little matter of the plagiarized posting rules, as I've mentioned previously.

Bill C. said...

Mono, just one corrective comment.
Cindy Mansell is not the mayors blog administrator, she's the City recorder and provides us withall are gramas.
I believe that the Cindy you're refering to is Cindy Weilla.(?) spelling.
I also have a problem with how the mayors blog is tagged as the Official Ogden City blog. At least it's a showcase for the inept, irrational and illogical positions taken by the tiny liar and his dwindling minions.

Monotreme said...

Bill,

You're right, I just saw the post signed "Cindy" and jumped to a conclusion.

Monotreme said...

Oh, and another correction, it's Dustin (Chapman?) over on the Ogden Insider.

Don't I remember that art from a SL Weekly cover article some time ago? Wonder if they paid to use it.

mistaken identity said...

Mono-

That's not Dustin Chapman. If you search his name in Facebook, you can find a picture.

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