To the editor:
The Brigantine Taxpayers Association brought up the subject of on-demand Internet accessibility of City Council meetings to the people of Brigantine at the March 2 council meeting.
Public business is the public’s business. Making it so means constant attention by the public to make sure it knows what its government is doing. Sometimes that can be difficult, especially if the government is not doing its upmost legally to make it transparent and clearly understood. This should not be an adversarial situation, although it frequently is, either between political parties or between the public and its public officials.
We think our municipal government can do a better job of keeping people, primary and second-home owners, informed of the proceedings at City Council meetings. Approximately 60 to 70 percent (and growing) of Brigantine property owners are second-home owners. Much of the city’s revenue comes from their property taxes. Yes, people may attend council meetings or view them on local Channel 97 at the times they occur. There has been occasional streaming of these meetings, but not now. There is no on-demand Internet viewing of these meetings by residents, wherever they are at whatever time. The technology exists, and it’s affordable.
It appears that a comprehensive review and up-to-date improvement of electronic communication between Brigantine’s residents and their government is in order now. This includes working with Comcast – no more “glitches” or excuses with no picture or no sound or both – and with Ustream or any other company. Upon examination, what we now have is some bits and pieces of a disorganized, ineffective process via the city’s website. There’s a Ustream list of 2014 council meetings, but no accessibility to these videos. What has happened to them? Has the Ustream contract lapsed? These and other questions need answers.
Videos of City Council meetings are legal public documents and are an accurate, thorough documentation of public meetings. They should be archived in a professional manner, accessible easily to the public, and available to it on demand via the Internet.
City Council should set policy on this manner and see that the administration implements it as soon as possible.
And while we’re on the subject, how about videos of school board meetings – which are not televised at all?
Anne H. Phillips
Brigantine Taxpayers Association