November 13, 2009

City considers allowing committee members to participate through internet

City councilors agreed recently to consider allowing municipal board members to participate in meetings without actually attending them.

First-term city Councilor David Mills said that more people would be able to participate if they could sometimes attend through web-based meeting programs or other electronic means.

“Maybe the pool could be increased” of possible board members if the city made the change, Mills said.

At the suggestion of an assistant city attorney, Edward Krawiecki, Jr, the council voted unanimously to have the Ordinance Committee explore the idea.

The city charter requires members and alternates of every board, commission or committee to “regularly attend meetings” and mandates they be thrown off if they miss 60 percent of the regular sessions during the year or if they skip three in a row.

It doesn't define what attendance means. State law doesn't appear to resolve the issue either, though it is clear that meetings can be held over the phone.

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Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

FOI is clear that any discussions via email, telephone, or otherwise involving multiple members of a public body constitutes a meeting...

Section 1-200(2) (2) “Meeting” means any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any
convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency, and any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.

I think that spells it out pretty clearly.

Steve Collins said...

I'm not sure there aren't other sections or decisions that come into play. I guess we'll find ou if this issue is explored.

Anonymous said...

and this would cost what? How about just getting a committee member to commit to the time being on a board requires? I wasn't aware that the pool of potential candidates had thinned out so desperately.

Anonymous said...

Bristol has enough problems. Maybe we could email layoff slips out and we wont have to face anyone.

Anonymous said...

Waht would happen if ALL the members participated through the internet: how would the public get involved?

Maybe that is what the politicians want.

Or can the public participate through the internet too?

Anonymous said...

when you are not at these meetings let it be becuase one can't be at the meeting. if you are available by phone or internet, you should be present! although, there are committee members that want to get too involved and start to micromanage everything. some people get into the "ceo" frame of mind and start daydreaming and end up powetripping. they want too many meetings and this volunteer or part-time appointed position become cumbersome for the other members that do have a life ouside these committees.

Anonymous said...

if you can't show up then get out! that's why there are procedures for this. don't volunteer if you can't cut it!

Anonymous said...

Mills:

Just say NO.

Anonymous said...

Just a way to be even more secretive.

Thanks Art

Anonymous said...

between this and the Boy scouts shoveling for private citizens, I am thinking Dave Mills is in a little over his head and maybe should take some time to get his bearings before he starts proposing items at his first City Council meeting.

Anonymous said...

City Council too ??????

Anonymous said...

Seems Mr.Mills is going for the gold when he himself has said he wanted to take it slow and get his bearings, but I am sure some were some one maybe helping him since he seems thier best bet for a Mayoral candidate.

Anonymous said...

what a joke. again the people of bristol will have no say in anything.

Anonymous said...

DONT BE FOOLED MILLS IS GOING TO BE A NIGHTMARE FOR WARD. HE IS ANOTHYER KEN AND WILL BE LOOKING AT THE MAYORS SEAT NEXT ELECTION. KEN WILL BE THE NEXT MAYOR ART WILL SCREW UP BIG TIME THIS BUDGET. HES ALREADY PACKING HIS BAGS AND THE UNION GUYS ARE HELPING HIM.

Anonymous said...

I am tired of hearing about mills being a candidate for mayor next time around. No wonder our city is in dire straits! this man just got on (a popularity vote, mind you) and you're already talking about him being the mayor? one week does not a mayor make nor does one term, in my book.

Anonymous said...

This mills guy thinks hes taking over. Heard him talking he said he has big plans for the mall property.

Anonymous said...

Tim and Mills what a pair together they have all the answers.

Anonymous said...

LMAO!

"DONT BE FOOLED MILLS IS GOING TO BE A NIGHTMARE FOR WARD. HE IS ANOTHYER KEN AND WILL BE LOOKING AT THE MAYORS SEAT NEXT ELECTION."

Another Ken? HAHAHAHA. Looks like Ward will be a shoe-in if he wants to run again.

NOT mine said...

Put ALL the meetings on the internet so the public can monitor the criminal activity from the comfort of their homes any hour of the day or night.

Then what actually occurs @ the meetings will be made public , not merely the minutes being presented as official .

Don't think for one moment that the 'reporters' actually publish the truth .

Anonymous said...

The GOP would be wise to get former mayor Stortz back into the picture!

NOT mine .... said...

Hey Stephen !!!!!

You claim this blog is for local news and national is ignored .


I couldn't help but to notice your link to the anti-american / pro-socialist site when I visited the blog .


WTF ?!?!~?!?!?!??!?!?!?!!?!

Steve Collins said...

NOT MINE -- I'm probably going to regret asking, but what the heck are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

This is not X O Punt the issue 1st and ten at cityhall.We should be voting by internet...lol

Anonymous said...

People were not paying attention: Mills is a fan and supporter of Zoppo.
Do you think that they don't talk?

Anonymous said...

Change Krawieckis title to "Mayor behind the curtain".

Anonymous said...

On second thought, maybe the republicans should have nominated Lawton.

Anonymous said...

republicans vote Lawton, they want someone they can have some handle on. Like some people said loose cannon, but hey maybe thats what the city needs, honesty , seems alot of meetings behind closed doors, how does that keep the public informed.
I would also like to point out you knew the job qualifications when you signed up now you want to change them, make the commitment be at all the meetings this internet thing is not a good idea, what happens if you cant get online or you loose connection the people of this city deserves better than a half baked idea

Anonymous said...

Does Sportys have Wi-Fi???

Anonymous said...

If they can't bother to be there in person, then they shouldn't be on the committee.

burnt said...

11:10 - seems that half-baked would be well-done in your world.

Anonymous said...

If Krawiki supports it, Mocabee can't be too far behind.

Anonymous said...

What is the problem with exploring the feasibility of a different or new way of doing things? No one has stated that this is going to be implemented, only that it should be looked into. The private sector has used video/teleconferencing for years with geat success. Is it appropriate for local committee meetings? Maybe it is and maybe it's not. That's the purpose of looking into this. A lot of people on this blog complain about the status quo but are also very quick to dismiss and criticize any new suggestions. Can't have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

Mills loves Zoppo he thinks she walks on water - trust me, he will bring her back any way he can. Then this city will be 100% screwed.

Anonymous said...

6:53

Private industry and government entities operate under different guidelines.

Do you want your tax dollars spent in private?

Anonymous said...

City govt is the peoples govt. Which means the taxpayer should be able to attend the meetings.

NOT mine said...

Steve Collins said...
NOT MINE -- I'm probably going to regret asking, but what the heck are you talking about?

November 14, 2009 1:49 PM
```````````````````````

Stephen .... I see the link has been removed . NOW the question is did you remove it to play ignorant or do you have NO idea what links are placed in YOUR blog ??

Steve Collins said...

NOT MINE -- I haven't changed any links at all. Maybe you saw a Google ad? Those links are not determined by me. Usually, they're for Rob Simmons but sometimes they're for all sorts of weird things. Right now, it's advertising Bristol massage therapy.
Anyway, I wasn't aware of any socialistic, anti-American advertising there. But, then, I don't usually see it at all.

Anonymous said...

I am a board member and I think this is a good idea if used correctly. There have been rare times that my work has taken me out of town/state the day of a meeting. It would have been nice to be able to call in and participate - therefore fulfilling my duty as a board member. I see this more as an "occasional" tool for those types of situations. I truly believe that when ever possible - physical attendance is best. However, this would be beneficial!

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea. As someone who actually serves on a Board this would prove helpful for the few times that I can not make a meeting because of business travel. I agree this should only be used for special occasions and not be the norm.

Anonymous said...

Businesses today are increasing using "webinar" technolgy. It saves time, money and is effective. This is a great idea and offers an oppertunity for CC members and the public greater flexibility and access. Of course one needs to know how to use a computer.

It is an idea worth exploring, including FOI ramifications.

For a guy with little more then two weeks under his belt Councilman Mills has provided some very interesting new ways for our City to function...WITHOUT cost a dime.

And I thought you needed 16 years of on the job training to be a leader! Mayor Mills has a nice ring to it!

Anonymous said...

8:16

There is no such thing as a free lunch.
NOBODY has explained how this will work, any equipment needed, etc.

And how much will it cost US with things being snuck in???????

Odin said...

I think you're annointing Mills as the second coming of Thomas Jefferson a little quickly. Let's wait and see if any of his suggestions make it to the finish line.

ding-a-ling-a-ling said...

8:16 - sounds like your bell has been bonged too many times.

Anonymous said...

Mills said, Mills said, Mills said. I have never ever heard you quote a first-term councilman more than you have with Mills. Can you please tell us why this man's words are so important that he must be highlighted in just about every article involving the city? He's not been a councilman for more than two weeks and he's already the go-to guy for all the answers? That doesn't make much sense to me or anyone else.

Steve Collins said...

7:37 -- Mills offered some ideas at the last City Council meeting. I wrote them up the next day. Nothing more complicated than that. Kate Matthews and Kevin Fuller were pretty quiet. If they'd pushed for something, you can rest assured, I would have reported that, too.
Would you really prefer that I not tell you what initiatives councilors propose?

Anonymous said...

I believe Mr. Mills was talking about City Boards not the City Council with his request. Many times those citizens serving on City Boards cannot attend the regularly scheduled public meetings due to being out of town on business or vacation. A simple and cheap tool like GoToMeeting.com ($50/month) and a conference call could allow the board member to attend the meeting,provide feedback, review any documents the Board is reviewing even though they are at a remote location. You do need a laptop on both sides. I believe the City has laptops as do most of the volunteers. And if you wanted to "see" the remote member, a webcam would do that nicely (and they only cost $50 or so).

So, there seems to be a lot of "noise" about why this can't be done before doing any investigation. Can't it just be checked out before we start slamming people. Who cares who made the suggestion. It's a good idea to be checked out. If there are reasons why it can't be done, so be it but we have to start being less negative to ideas because they were suggested by a person on a different side of the political isle.

Odin said...

Steve:

I suggest you shut this thread down and let's all wait for the Ordinance Committee to do its job. They meet monthly (I forget when) in the conference room outside the Council Chambers.

Anonymous said...

In the past 10 years, maybe 3-4 committee members had trouble meeting the minimum meeting requirement. So what is the problem?

How about when a committee member is "out of town" for 3-4 months, because they have a vacation home elsewhere: would they be really serving the community by staying on that board?

How would it be known that they were really not available?

System works well now, why go looking for trouble?

Tim Gamache said...

While I feel 3:52PM makes a valid point,there would have to be some real accountability on this.Authorized absences(ie. work travel,illness or death in the family) would have to be CLEARLY defined.I have some real reservations in regard to this idea based primarily on the ease with which this method could be abused.It could easily result in a much less transparent government,the result of which would be the citizens and taxpayers being left in the dark.Not a confidence building prospect.

Anonymous said...

Tim,

Do you think we will ever see accountability in our local government?

Who will be monitoring this process, and how objective might it be?

It ain't broke, why tinker with it?

Concerned Conservative said...

Bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Certainly doesn't lead to openness in government

Anonymous said...

To those concerned with openess and transparency.....you have obviously never used GoToMeeting before....

Anonymous said...

Once you go down that road you can never go back. I think it's a very bad idea. People will start getting lazy and want to start doing these things from home under the guise of illness or whatever else. I know human nature. It's easier to flip a switch than it is to get out of the house, especially in the winter, and drive to wherever for a meeting.

chris wilson said...

I attended a session conducted by Thomas Mooney an attorney familiar with FOI laws. Tom indicated that a member could participate remotely. In fact the entire meeting could be conducted remotely as long as a computer/and or phone is available at the public meeting place so that the public could observe or listen to the meeting. FOI does not require that there be participation by the public but the ability to see government conducted in the open. Technology can be used for that purpose apparently. It shall be interesting to see if any governmental agencies utilize such technology to conduct its meetings.

Anonymous said...

Who will type in every comment that is made, but a member, by staff, by the public?

Will a computer be provided for every person attending?

Are all rooms set up for this?

Don't forget, Libray meets at the Library, Water Board at Water Board, Education at Education etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

I thought every meeting occurred at City Hall?

Anonymous said...

8:34

NOPE!