Saturday, December 1, 2007

No wonder we call it the Kenosha Snooze!

Sunday's Kenosha News carries an article about former Pleasant Prairie village trustee Alex Tiahnybok taping village board meetings which are then posted to a YouTube account.

Yawn. Not only is it a pretty lame story but old news which was discussed here on November 9 and 19.

The newspaper also fails to mention that on the agenda for next Monday's village board meeting is a proposal to "podcast" the audio of village board proceedings.

A live "webcast" seems like a better idea but, hey, it's a start. And it's something the Kenosha News missed.

You snooze, you don't get the news!



Anonymous said...

Yes, the story was nothing new or offered no real insite to the issue, just more bias. Don't blame the reporter who was just trying to make an effort to portray that he has an understanding of the village. Yesterday the paper had a very good article written by the same reporter telling everyone to drive slow and cautiously when there is snow & ice. Maybe this should be his niche instead?

Anonymous said...

You have become a lap dog for the village.

RAG said...

Lap dog? Not quite. Incompetent journalism has been commented about on several occasions.

In this case, the story was late and incompetent. For example, the newspaper never investigated the veracity of the claims of how expensive it would be to televise the meetings.

The same newspaper repeatedly does hit and run stories but rarely does an independent investigation of the claims it reports.

WLIP has also been criticised here for abandoning any semblance of real broadcast reporting,

Ditto for the dilution of television reporting.

Lap dog? Bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that when Alex was on the board he talked about televising meetings but did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to bring it about. How can be complain about it when he did nothing to change it?

If he tried and failed, that would be another story. Then he could legitimately blame the rest of the board. But he did nothing.

RAG said...

An anonymous post was rejected because part of it contained an unconfirmed attribution which would require the reader to engage in speculation as to a particular person’s motives.

In the remaining part the poster correctly said that Trustee Tiahnybok had the subject of broadcasting board meetings put on the agenda for the 9/5/06 meeting. The agenda item was for the board to “consider” broadcasting its meetings on cable channel 25. There was no resolution, ordinance or fiscal note brought forward by Alex or anyone else. There was discussion of the topic which included concerns over the absence of necessary equipment at the village hall and the cost to broadcast the meetings and an apparently overriding concern that if the meetings are going to be broadcast that they should be “done right.” The village president asked what the board’s pleasure was with regard to the item and neither Alex or anyone else made any motion whatsoever. Based on having been present at the meeting and reviewing pages 68-72 of the minutes, it’s apparent that this was a discussion item. That’s because nothing formal was requested, prepared or presented.

The proper procedure (or one of the proper procedures, to be accurate) would have been for a study of what’s needed to broadcast the meetings, what the cost would be and how it would be funded followed by the introduction of an enabling ordinance or resolution. Discussing the matter isn’t enough. You have to be prepared with the appropriate ordinance or resolution backed up by the facts and figures supporting the request. Floating a trial balloon simply doesn’t cut it. Even if Alex hadn’t done his homework and had everything ready to roll on 9/5/06, he could have made a motion to have the village staff prepare a cost estimate and proposed enabling legislation and then have the matter put on a future meeting agenda. You really can’t expect someone to vote on what isn’t there.

Putting on my broadcast engineer's hat, for a live broadcast you would need equipment (probably at least two cameras) at the village hall and related cables), personnel to operate the cameras and control console, a line from the village hall to the cable access control center and personnel at the control center to operate the switcher console and monitor the feed.

I’ve always supported telecasting the meetings if the staff, equipment and funds to do so are available. As an interim alternative, I’ve suggested “webcasting” where the live audio stream would be available to the public and the news media. This could be done at minimal cost.

As for the accuracy of the above anonymous post, I think it's a question of semantics. Alex did bring up the topic but did nothing beyond that to make the concept a reality. Whether that's "absolutely nothing" or the functional equivalent is for each person to decide.

My take is that is just floating the trial balloon without any research or preparation to go forward and not doing anything substantive to advance the proposition is tantamount to doing nothing meaningful.

Anonymous said...

It's not uncommon in the state legislature for bills to be introduced to appease constituents but then die in committee because the "proponent" never worked for passage.

If you really want legislation to pass, you have to do more than suggest an idea or even sponsor a bill. You really do have to do your homework and legwork.

Maybe Alex should come out in opposition to broadcast meetings and then the rest would favor it???

Anonymous said...

O yeah, that's right.
Alex should have worked this out in the backroom. Doesn't make sense to discuss something in front of all those citizens!

RAG said...

I don't know of anyone here who would think that Alex should have thrashed this out "in the back room."

If I were Alex, what I would have done was:

1. Research and formulate a conceptual plan for televising board meetings.

2. Meet with village staff to assess what resources will be needed in order to implement the conceptual plan and whether those resources presently exist or would need to be acquired and, if so, at what cost.

3. Prepare a final plan for televised meetings along with a proposed budget for the necessary resources.

4. Meet with the village administrator to determine if existing funds are available to implement the plan or whether the project would need to be included in the coming fiscal year's budget.

5. Draft appropriate proposed ordinances and resolutions.

6. Present the final plan, fiscal report and appropriate proposed ordinances and resolutions to the village board and be prepared to justify any proposed additional expenditures along with the companion proposed revenue source(s).

The above is just a brief outline of what would need to be done to bring this to fruition.

RAG said...

My initial take is that it would run about a couple of grand a year to do a live audio stream and most of that figure would be to have someone initiate and terminate the broadcast and troubleshoot the feed if a problem comes up.

Annual hosting fees: $120

Village board meets about 120 hours per year. At $15 per hour to have someone attend the feed, that's $1800 per year.

So we're up to about a couple of grand. There may be an initial cost of few hundred dollars for software and hardware so we'd probably be safe calling it three grand a year for audio streaming.

Yes, you could do this a lot cheaper at home.

Having said the above, the dead horse has been beaten and comments here are closed.