The Oakland County Board of Commissioners is expected to consider whether to give authority to Chairman Mike Gingell (R-Lake Orion) to appoint an ad hoc committee to investigate “the most effective and efficient” way the commission can broadcast its meetings to the public, whether it’s via webcasting or television.
The commissioners are slated to consider the matter tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 9, after their meeting last week was postponed due to the snowstorm that hit the metro Detroit area.
Gingell would be tasked with appointing a three-member ad hoc committee consisting of two Republicans and one Democrat to further study the matter. Gingell would also have the authority to appoint “non-commissioner” members to the ad hoc committee under the current language of the resolution.
After the proposed study is complete, the committee would have to report back its findings to the county board’s General Government Committee and the full board. The General Government Committee would then consider the matter and decide whether to make modifications to the proposal, approve it as is, or scrap it altogether.
Commissioner John Scott (R-Waterford, West Bloomfield) said that the committee will study “the entire cost of doing what has to be done,” whether that’s televising the meetings or streaming them online, or a combination of both.
Scott said he attempted a similar effort about four years ago and learned that the cost of the Internet bandwidth was too great to be fiscally feasible. Such a challenge could confront the county if commissioners move forward with televising the meetings, as well, since county government doesn’t receive public, educational and governmental (PEG) fees from cable television providers.
“The problem is that we don’t have any money and we can’t add to the budget,” Scott said.
Commissioner Shelley Taub (R-Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield) said one of the problems encountered in the past with such a measure was that the real work of the board goes on during various committee meetings, not necessarily meetings of the full board.
“A lot of the stuff that goes on for the cameras is grandstanding, political stuff that we don’t really see much of in committees,” she said.
Commissioner Marcia Gershenson (D-West Bloomfield) said she supports the effort “100 percent.”
“I’m glad that we’re looking at it again,” she said. “Maybe this time we’ll actually be able to come up with (monetary) figures and infrastructure.”