Bob Weiner's proposed resolution to televise meetings County scheduled for vote tomorrow. Opposition expresses concerns. - News Journal
NEW CASTLE COUNTY COUNCIL Televised meetings weighed; Proposal would air meetings live
By Adam Taylor The News Journal 1/13/14
A New Castle County councilman wants all council meetings televised on the county’s television station so more residents can see their government in action.
“The public has a right to both observe and determine if their elected officials are maintaining the highest standards of ethical behavior and fiscal prudence,” Councilman Bob Weiner said in a statement. Weiner’s resolution is scheduled to be voted on at Tuesday night’s council meeting. It faces opposition because of concerns about making council meetings longer and who would control the recordings of the meetings. Council President Chris Bullock said he will vote against the measure. “It’s an invitation for elected officials to pontificate and make long statements and political speeches,” Bullock said. “Some council members might use it as a platform to pontificate rather than legislate.”
Bullock said the meetings are accessible enough already, because they’re advertised and open to the public. Audio files of the meetings are posted onto the county’s website the day after meetings, he said. Under Weiner’s proposal, the council meetings would be aired live, then rebroadcast on NCCTV, which is available on Channel 22 for Comcast and Channel 29 for Verizon customers.
Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick said she wants council to have control of the rebroadcasts. She fears someone in the executive branch might selectively edit the meetings and misuse them. “For transparency reasons, I just don’t know how I could vote against it, but I want council to be in control of the tapes,” Kilpatrick said. “I don’t want them stored someplace where somebody can fool around with them.”
Kilpatrick also doesn’t like the fact that the resolution will be discussed for the first time at an afternoon committee meeting Tuesday, just hours before the evening vote to approve the idea will be taken.
Weiner’s resolution says that Gordon, not the council, would implement the telecasts.
County Executive Tom Gordon’s administration announced last month that the county Planning Board and Board of Adjustment meetings would be televised on NCCTV starting this month.
Gordon’s Chief Administrative Officer David Grimaldi couldn’t be reached Saturday, but in Weiner’s statement announcing the idea he seemed to support it. “Bob has been crafting, reviewing and redrafting his legislative package with Tom and me regularly for over a year,” Grimaldi said.
Councilman Penrose Hollins shares Bullock’s concerns and will not support Weiner’s idea.
“I’m really concerned there would be too much political theater,” Hollins said. “We’re challenged enough as it is to run our meetings efficiently.”
Hollins also said there are too many unanswered questions about how much the idea would cost to implement for him to support it.
Weiner said the cost would be nominal.
Contact Adam Taylor at (302) 324-2787 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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