An investment worth making

Published 7:46 am Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Since the arrival of COVID-19, the world has become a different place. Public events have been canceled, restaurants and other businesses have seen changes to how they have been able to operate, and many public meetings have been broadcast over the internet for the public to be able to view the business of the people they have elected to serve them.

While we hope to see life get back to “normal” at some point in the near future, the streaming of those meetings is one thing we don’t want to see change. At least not completely. While we do want to see people be able to attend public meetings and hear the business being done again, we also think going forward, those meetings should continue to be broadcast online, and even archived for viewing at a later date on the websites of governing bodies, YouTube, or some form of digital storage.

For several years now, unless there is a very high profile issue on the agenda and the public knows about it, there are few citizens in attendance at most meetings of city and county government agencies, school boards, and other similar groups. In some cases, that’s a choice made by those people to not attend, but in other cases, there are circumstances such as work schedules that simply don’t allow interested parties to get to the meetings. They would like to see what business is being done, hear any discussions about it, and hear how those they have elected vote on issues, but because of other important parts of their lives, getting there in person at the time of the meeting is not an option. Making all public meetings available online would be beneficial in those cases, and it would be an additional step in holding those who have been elected accountable with more people being able to easily see the meetings.

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Broadcasting the meetings would require the purchase of some equipment, but often that step has already been taken during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the cases of school districts, many already have the equipment on hand for technology classes and other related projects, so it would simply be a matter of putting that equipment to use.

For those who don’t have the equipment, a small investment would put their meetings on the information superhighway and put the organization itself further down the road to providing the most transparent government possible.

This newspaper is dedicated to keeping the public informed. We cover the business conducted by local government bodies, and we will always do that. Still, we hope those governing bodies will also take a role in the process and continue to make their meetings available to the public via the internet when the pandemic is over. It’s a small investment to keep the public involved in the process and make sure we have the most transparent government possible.