County close to airing board meetings

Published 9:02 am Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The information systems staff of Freeborn County are working out some finals bugs in their recording system to get the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners meetings on cable television.

Staff have been working since December conducting some test recordings of meetings and should soon be able to air the meetings on the government channel without any major problems, said Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever. He was unsure whether all the problems were going to be worked out in time to put the Tuesday commissioner meeting on the channel.

Scott Woitas, head of the county’s information systems department, was unable to be reached to verify whether the meeting was to air. An official permanent date for the board meetings has also not been set.

Email newsletter signup

Kluever said the idea to record the meetings was one that Commissioners Dan Belshan and Chris Shoff initially indicated support for, but eventually others followed.

Belshan said because of recent changes in the county board and a new administrator, “there is a fresh attitude of openness in government.”

Eventually the meetings will also be made available by streaming video on the Internet, he said.

“I believe in openness in government and have advocated airing meetings since 1999,” Belshan said. “People’s busy lifestyles often prevent them from attending meetings, so what better way to see elected officials in action than to see a meeting on TV?”

The recordings show that the county commissioners have followed in the footsteps of the Albert Lea City Council when they voted to tape their own meetings. Council meetings have been recorded and then aired on the government access channel for several years.

The commissioners, however, might take their taping a step further by recording their workshops as well.

Kluever said there has been talking about doing so, which would mean the workshops would have to be in the board room instead of the Freeborn Room where they usually are.

Currently, council workshops are not recorded.

Belshan said he’s audio-taped meetings in the past, and Albert Lean Chad Hayson volunteered to video-record meetings, which aired on local cable public-access channels.