Oakland County commissioners are once again mulling over the idea of somehow televising meetings of the Board of Commissioners. We’ve always believed that televising county board meetings would be a good idea; however, the added cost may not be something the county can take on at this time. That’s why we’re glad commissioners are expected to create a panel to first study the potential costs and then decide whether televised meetings are feasible.
The 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.
Gingell would be tasked with appointing a three-member ad hoc committee consisting of two Republicans and one Democrat to study the matter. He also would be authorized to appoint “non-commissioner” members under the current language of the resolution.
After the study is complete, the committee would have to report 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) initiated a similar effort about four years ago and learned that the cost of the Internet bandwidth necessary to stream meeting videos online was too great to be feasible. Such a challenge could confront commissioners if they move forward with televising meetings, since county government doesn’t receive public, educational and governmental (PEG) fees from cable television providers to use for equipment purchases.
We’ve long held that the county board meetings should be available on television in some manner, although we don’t believe it’s imperative that the meetings be broadcast live. In fact, it probably would be much more practical and maybe preferable to tape the meetings and broadcast the recordings on cable at a later date and/or time. Honestly, the last time the notion was taken up by commissioners we didn’t give much thought to streaming video of the meetings online. That may be the more expensive option.
Thankfully, it appears that commissioners’ initial consideration is merely to set up a group to look into the cost of all the meeting broadcast options. With the county’s budget getting tighter and tighter each year, casually suggesting the commissioners make a few changes here and there in the budget to make meeting broadcasts a reality just isn’t practical anymore. Creating a panel to nail down all costs related to each broadcasting option is the wisest way to proceed.