Smile, city government, you’re on webcast camera

government could have a lot more eyes and ears on its business — in real time on the Internet.

The City provides live audio and video broadcast on its Web site for 14 boards, committees and commissions that hold public meetings at City Hall. Archives of the meetings — which include the Board of Supervisors and its six committees along with the Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni — are also provided on the site for up to one year.

But about 100 boards, committees and commmissions that meet at City Hall escape that kind of scrutiny, with public access limited to meeting minutes posted online or by requesting an audio cassette.

The Entertainment Commission, Department of Environment, Recreation and Park Commission, Animal Welfare and Control Commission and the Ethics Commission are among those that escape the live and archived broadcast.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has introduced legislation that would require The City to stream live audio and video of public meetings at City Hall as well as establish an archive, with footage held for two years. The bill would require posting the meetings’ footage within 72 hours.

Mirkarimi said the law would enhance The City’s sunshine ordinance, which requires public access to certain city government information, and uses advancements in technology to move toward “complete transparency.”

The proposal is estimated to cost about $76,000 annually in labor costs, according to city officials. The City would also spend $55,000 from its Cable Franchise Capital Fund to purchase necessary equipment for startup.

Open-government advocate Kimo Crossman praised the proposed law, but advocated for same-day posting of the archived footage.

“The real value of the recording is to be able to read the story in the newspaper and then go listen to it,” Crossman said. “You really want to encourage same-day postage so people can listen to and participate in the government, because a few days later people forget about it and move on to different things.”

SFGTV Station Manager Jack Chin said that “No other city in the country provides this much meeting coverage.”

The Board of Supervisors Rules Committee voted Thursday to send the bill to the full board with recommendation for its approval. The full board is expected to vote on it on April 15.

jsabatini@examiner.com

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive at Biden's inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021, in Washington, DC.  (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)
Joe Biden issues call for ‘unity’ amidst extreme partisan rancor

‘I will be a president for all Americans,’ he says in inauguration speech

MARIETTA, GA - NOVEMBER 15: Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Jon Ossoff (R) and Raphael Warnock (L) of Georgia taps elbows during a rally for supporters on November 15, 2020 in Marietta, Georgia. Both become senators Wednesday.  (Jenny Jarvie/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Vice President Harris swears in senators Padilla, Warnock, Ossoff

New Democratic senators tip balance of power in upper legislative house

President Joe Biden plans to sign a number of executive orders over the next week. (Biden Transition/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS)
Biden signals new direction by signing mask order on his first day in office

President plans ambitious 10-day push of executive orders, legislation

Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
A new turn in history: Kamala Harris sworn in as 49th vice president

Noah Bierman and Melanie Mason Los Angeles Times Kamala Devi Harris, born… Continue reading

From left, Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave as they arrive on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol for the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. During today’s inauguration ceremony Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)
Joe Biden inaugurated as 46th president as Trump era comes to an end

Todd Spangler Detroit Free Press Taking over the reins of government at… Continue reading

Most Read