With more local governments moving to open up their meetings to people who may not be able to physically be there for a particular session, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners has authorized Chairman Mike Gingell (R-Lake Orion) to appoint an informal three-member committee to study the issue and see if the county’s governing body can either televise its meetings or stream them online in an economically feasible manner.
The board’s action came on Thursday, Feb. 17. Gingell appointed two members from the majority Republican Caucus — Commissioner Jeff Matis (R-Rochester), who will chair the ad hoc committee, and Commissioner Kathy Crawford (R-Novi) — and Commissioner Gary McGillivray (D-Madison Heights), a member of the board’s minority Democratic Caucus.
After the study is complete, the committee will have to report back its findings to the county board’s General Government Committee and the full board. The General Government Committee will then consider the matter and decide whether to make modifications to any ad hoc panel proposal, approve it as is, or scrap it altogether.
McGillivray said he hopes the ad hoc committee —echoing the comments of at least one lakes area commissioner, Shelley Taub (R-Orchard Lake) — will be able to come up with a proposal that will allow the televising and/or online streaming of board committee meetings. However, fiscal concerns may trump that idea.
“I’m not sure, with the economy the way it is, what the county could afford at this point,” McGillivray said.
Crawford said similar meeting broadcasting took place when she was a member of the Novi City Council and that, aside from some initial “grandstanding,” the initiative worked well.
“People would watch it at home, and if it was an issue they were really adamant about, they would come down to the meeting,” she said.
McGillivray said that when the issue was considered a few years ago, out-state companies were bidding high figures that possibly would be lowered if the county went to local firms, such as ones that televise local city or township government meetings.
He added that he wasn’t aware of a time schedule for meetings of the ad hoc committee because he’s in the minority party.
Matis said that while there is no deadline at this point for a formal proposal, he’s looking forward to working with various stakeholders.
“We are going to have input in (County Executive) Brooks Patterson’s administration that deals with those technological-type issues,” he said.