Thursday, February 21, 2008

Grandstanding or altruism?

Former Pleasant Prairie village board member Alex Tiahnybok banged the drum again this week for village board meetings to be televised, a position I don't necessarily oppose.

Besides making comments at the Monday night's village board meeting, Tiahnybok repeated his call today over at his blog.

There are, however, several problems with Tiahnybok's rant.

First, there's the cost factor. It costs money to acquire equipment, personnel and cabling to enable this. That money isn't in the village budget. Tiahnybok seems to bring up this idea a day late and a dollar short -- after the budget process has been finalized -- and as a trustee he never introduced any formal legislation to televise the meetings.

The legislative process requires much more than saying, "I think we should ... " but rather includes research, getting cost figures and preparing and introducing the proper legislation.

To do this outside the budget process -- and mind you, Tiahnybok has never done his homework and come up with a specific plan, either when he was on the board or now -- would require that the village take money from the contingency fund.

With one of the worst winters in recent memory and increased costs for snow removal and ice control, I think most people would agree that the contingency reserves are better utilized for public health and safety such as keeping the streets safe. That's a "no brainer."

I commend Tiahnybok for his citizen journalist efforts in placing video recordings of village board proceedings on You Tube but the reality is that these delayed broadcasts don't have the same value as a live broadcast. Plus, there doesn't appear to be a strong interest in the delayed broadcasts.

If Tiahnybok is really serious about this, he'll do his homework and come up with a sound, workable proposal including cost estimates. He should then work with the village board to see that this gets considered in the next budget cycle. But just floating the trial balloon without any substance doesn't cut it.

In fairness, it's been my position that an intermediate solution that could be done quickly and with little cost would be a live webcast of the audio portion of the meeting. But if given the choice between having the streets clean this winter and telecasting village board meetings, I'll support clean streets.

Editor's note: I fully anticipate comments supporting and bashing Alex Tiahnybok and will moderate them heavily. This is because those comments are likely to generate more heat than light. We've talked about this subject before and the record here speaks for itself.

3 comments:

PleasantPrairieWI said...

Dick,

Thanks for taking this topic on again. I always know I can count on YOU.

Just a couple of quick comments: Based on my experience as an observer and as a trustee, I believe the budget for operating and producing content on CH25 is split between the recplex, the utilities, and the general village budget.

Have you EVER seen public debate on any content on CH25? SO, WHY SHOULD THAT BE THE CASE ON THIS MOST BASIC OF OFFERINGS? This contention that I personally never put together a full proposal is vacuous. That IS the village adminstrators JOB. When the board wants to do something, don't they instruct him to do the research. YOU witness the willingness to review my independent work when I presented it to the board.

Next, the technological obstacles are nil. I do not agree with your premise that not much interest exists in tape delayed broadcasts.

If so, why does the CH25 management bother to broadcast COUNTY BOARD meetings. Why bother showing anything that isn't live. Surely the wakeboard video I saw couple of weeks ago from Lake Andrea was at least a couple of weeks old.

But I digress, I imagine you are comparing the anticipated viewership of CH25 versus traffic on YOUTUBE. Do you really want to hang your hat on this comparison?

If the village did the right thing and broadcast meetings, I personally would NEVER want to see them on YOUTUBE either -- this was an example to show it can be done and is not intended to be permanent.

Also, another thing for you to hang your hat on -- if meetings of any kind are boring, then what about ALL OTHER content on CH25 -- is any of it that stimulating??

I can only watch so much about snow plowing and technical wizardry of cameras that can snake through sewer pipes and nearly pop up through someones toilet.

IF excitement level is the criteria, then lets just junk the whole thing, because NOTHING would rise high enough for approval.

This should be basic service. WE OWN THE CAMERA'S and necessary equipment. It could be as simple as putting them on a mount on the back or side wall and someone could press the RED record button. Even if permanent how much could it cost $2-3000?

The village already does relatively sophisticated video production -- you can't really believe this would be a challenge.

It's simply that THEY don't want to do it.

RAG said...

I could not support any plan that isn't "live." The tape delay isn't as valuable.

If the village is going to spend money, do it right. In the interim, the audio feed should be webcast.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Alex T. try to get rid of channel 25 when he was a board member? Now he wants to use it?