Providing transparency and accessibility to your constituents should be a primary goal of all legislative bodies, but there are a few other reasons to support HB 2562.
When I served as the editor for The Gardner News, readers would sometimes tell me a particular story was biased. That’s open to interpretation, and making videotapes of council meetings and planning commissions gave readers what they needed to form their own opinions without my filter. In the era of fake news, having live streaming video and an online archive of committee meetings works to lawmakers’ advantage as well.
Gardner officials considered videotaping meetings for years before finally taking the plunge and doing so in 2011. Cost was a major concern.
Initial cost estimates were bloated. One cost estimate said it would cost more than several thousands to provide the service. In 2011, city staff told council members the service would cost somewhere between $19K and $4K.
It ended up costing much less than that. City finance manager said they installed a security camera, the kind you can buy at Sam’s Club for less than $200. In 2011, those meetings weren’t live streamed. They were uploaded to YouTube the day after a meeting, which required an hour or so of staff time once or twice a week.
Last year, council upgraded all of its audio and video equipment in council chambers. It was simply time to replace the equipment in the room used by council for purposes other than livestreaming. They added one computer and some AV equipment as part of the upgrade. The complete package cost $75,000, and city staff estimated it cost about $1,000 of that to upgrade streaming capabilities. And now the upload to YouTube is automated. YouTube also archives the videos on the city’s YouTube channel. (Using a third-party vendor who provides the service for free has its own pitfalls, but it’s a great way to start.)
The only staff time required is turning the video on and off in council chambers during a meeting.
Your (Leglislative) fiscal note seems bloated.
If little Gardner, Kansas, can livestream its city council and planning commission meetings make them available and archive them online, you can do it, too.
Danedri Thompson’s testimony last week on HB2562 in Topeka.
Former news editor testifies for transparency