by Rick Langenberg
Green Mountain Falls may soon become the latest government in the region to allow residents to view local meetings by accessing their computers, instead of having to see these sessions first-hand by frequenting town hall or learning about them through the lively rumor buzz at the post office or at local eateries.
In an about-face move, the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees last week agreed to approve a new public recording policy that sets the ground rules for audio/video recordings, live streaming and social media broadcasts of their proceedings. Moreover, the town may actually get into the public recording arena itself.
Trustee Howard Price, a previous critic of the process, said he had talks with Cameron Thorne, a member of the planning commission and economic sustainability committee, who is developing a new website for the town. According to Price, Thorne has the capability to live stream their meetings on YouTube without costing the citizens any money. “We have found a way to do it,” said Price. “It will be free.” But in order to move the process forward, he said the town council needed to approve its new public recording resolution. This measure opens the door for video operators, Internet producers, media professionals and citizens to public record GMF meetings, as long as they don’t disturb the proceedings and get prior permission. “I don’t want it to cost the citizens anything,” said Price, who took a much more flexible attitude compared to an earlier meeting this month.
Price also conceded that he took too stern of a stand in raising technical questions about the process. At an earlier discussion, former Mayor Dick Bratton accused the board of nitpicking the process to death. “Someone from KRDO (Channel 13) could come up here and videotape your meeting and there is nothing you could do about it, said Bratton, in explaining the constitutional right of individuals to record meetings for their own use. “They (potential video operators) are offering you a service. You are being too restrictive,” added Bratton, who didn’t see a problem with certain operators and producers trying to recoup their costs.
Bratton was referring to certain comments by the trustees that would have imposed restrictions on people trying to provide the recording service. Last week, most trustees took a vastly different stand and unanimously supported the process and the new resolution. Previously, most council members maintained that they didn’t want the town government to get involved in the process of recording its meetings due to the potential costs involved. But under a new plan, the town may actually sponsor the process through a new website. With this proposal, all GMF and planning commission meetings would be live streamed through YouTube recordings.
El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark, though, advised the trustees not to use these types of audio-video recordings as the official town record. “It takes time to maintain it,” said Clark, when referring to the live streaming process. According to Clark, the El Paso County commissioners do audio/video recordings of their meetings for television and Internet viewers, but cautioned that this process can be time consuming and can come with a few technical glitches. She said the commissioners’ audio/video recordings don’t represent their official public record.
Several town officials thanked Clark for her input and noted that the official record of GMF meetings would still be the actual minutes and tape recordings done by the town clerk, and wouldn’t consist of audio-video/social media broadcasts.
With this action, nearly all governmental entities in the Teller/Ute Pass area now have the technology in place to allow peopleto view their proceedings through their computers, tablets and I-Pads. A few exceptions still prevail, such as meetings held by the Teller County government.