short circuit television

It was reported in past weeks that the Canadian government, like our neighbors to the south, have the ability to track us, through our phone logs, keystrokes and more: http://www.techvibes.com/blog/canadian-government-has-ability-to-track-canadians-phones-2013-09-16

The high level of transparency that the government enjoys is not a two way street.

At the September 10th meeting of Aurora council centered around the theme of accessibility. Accessibility for the council chambers and a town park were addressed. Ironically when it came to making committee meetings accessible via video taping and live streaming Aurora council has denied such an obvious venue for transparency.

The Town’s pilot project for streaming council and committee meetings has been inconsistent at best. Streams have been locked up, start late, or in the case of the past 2 meetings the audio has appeared garbled. Town staff doesn’t appear to be taking the task seriously as even the user name for the Town’s YouTube Channel shows lagging behind by a year: http://www.youtube.com/user/Townofaurora2012

Mayor has defended all of these inadequacies as a cost issue, speaking to the purchase of bandwidth required for the live streaming component.
An interesting argument considering the Mayor supported half a Million dollars be spent on a still non functioning piece of asset management software.

The Municipal Act, 2001, as amended, requires all municipalities to adopt and maintain an Accountability and Transparency Policy.The Town of Aurora’s policy No. ADM07-013 dated November of 2007 can be found here: http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/doc?docId=5063

Enshrined in it are goals to "encouraging public access" and "deliver high quality services".

Both of which would be achieved by recording committee meetings, but the issue turned into one over concerns of committee members that may not want to be recorded.

Interesting, but not something that has stopped other municipalities in rolling out a similar set-up.

In the September 10th council meeting Gallo said he didn’t know what other municipalities were doing.

We should all commend Clr. Gallo on doing his research before attending a council meeting.

The following is a rather cursory search of how other municipalities are handling video access to their meetings:

Edmonton streams both video and audio for 2 locations covering all council and committee meetings, unfortunately archives of streams are not kept:
http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/council-committee-meetings.aspx

In an effort to increase residents’ access to City Council and Standing Committee Meetings, the City of Ottawa has been providing live streaming of meetings to mobile devices since 2011: http://www.baywardlive.ca/uncategorized/2011/06/city-of-ottawa-introduces-mobile-streaming-of-council-and-standing-committee-meetings/

London Ontario allows any citizen with access to the Internet through a desktop or laptop computer or smart phone to not only watch council meetings live, but to also easily access pertinent agenda reports. All the video and linked reports will be archived on the city’s website. The webcast system will be expanded during 2013 to include Council Committees and eventually Advisory Committees.:
https://www.london.ca/d.aspx?s=/meetings/default/meetingpackages.htm

Norfolk County Council-In-Committee, Council, Public Meetings, Board of Health, Committee of Adjustment and Police Services Board Meetings are available
live: http://www.norfolkcounty.ca/government/council-meetings/

Halton provides access to streaming video of both live and archived Halton Region Council meetings: https://www.halton.ca/cms/one.aspx?objectId=9029

Milton has been doing webcasts of its meetings since 2011: http://www.milton.ca/en/townhall/webcasts.asp

Richmondhill looks to be joining the game this month as reported here: http://news.ca.msn.com/ontario/richmond-hill/richmond-hill-may-live-stream-council-meetings

Hamilton livestreams and archive all meetings on their site: http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/CorporateServices/Clerks/AgendaMinutes/Planning/2013/

They even include a preamble at the beginning of all their meetings to disclose that meetings are being taped, something that would mitigate Mayor Dawe’s concern “There might be members of committees right now that don’t wish to be televised for some reason or another,” as reported in a September 11th piece by The Auroran here: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=3845

Excuse me?

"For some reason or another" is irrelevant.

These meetings are public.

They can be taped and have been as pointed out by Clrs Abel and Humfryes.

Both of which were referencing the videotaping of a couple Heritage Advisory Comittee meetings. I know because I was the one video taping them.

Written minutes do not provide an accurate record of what transpires at a meeting, there is no video or audio record provided by the town so until they do I have little choice but to record my own video.

It isn’t really a touch subject, accept for a couple particularly camera shy and power tripping ass-hats.

In 2007 Fort Erie’s Mayor Doug Martin wanted staff to investigate how to curtail individals videotaping publice meetings:
http://urbantoronto.ca/forum/showthread.php/5549-Fort-Erie-Mayor-moves-to-restrict-council-videotaping

Clr.Noyes provided a much more open approach:

"I applaud anyone who is that interested in local government that they would take the time to come out and tape our meetings. The public voted this council into power and we should never forget who we represent."

As did Clr. Steckley:

"Like it or not, we are always going to be watched until we are no longer in public office. We just have to accept that there will be people who like and others who don’t like what we say or do. But we don’t have the right, in my opinion, to censor or discourage them in any way."

And then more recently the mayor of Adelaide/Metcalfe township, southwest of London decided he would exercise his extreme ass-hat authority and used the O.P.P. to eject a resident from a public meeting because they refused to stop taping it:
http://www.lfpress.com/news/london/2012/05/13/19753221.html

The resident that got evicted tells his story here:
http://www.southwesternontario.ca/opinion/ratepayer-ejected-from-meeting-gives-his-side-of-the-story/

Regardless of the number of aforementioned municipalities that encouraging public access by delivering high quality services, and regardless of Aurora’s Accountability and Transparency Policy required under The Municipal Act, Aurora has refused to be open and transparent to its residents in an issue that boiled down to one thing: control.

Politicians, especially those that have a tough time controlling their emotions, love to control every facet of their image.
Control that is being stripped away at an alarming pace.

There’s a time and a place for civic servants to be camera-shy. Open meetings aren’t one of them.

It’s about time the rules caught up with the technology an there’s really only one rule that remains:

When in an argument, act as if you’re being recorded.

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