Today we give a tip of the hat to Clatsop County for an action that fosters openness in government.
It’s a core theme for news media, but one we believe should be embraced by everyone.
For the past several months, county staff have been working behind the scenes to televise and broadcast Board of Commissioners meetings live. The idea is that this will create a more engaged citizenry by bringing meetings to the homes of people who cannot attend in person.
Efforts began some while ago. Officials reached a franchise agreement with Charter TV in 2015, following several years of negotiations. As part of this, Charter paid $39,000 to cover the cost of a public-access channel.
The following year, commissioners approved a $90,000 contract to upgrade audio and install video capabilities in the Judge Guy Boyington Building in Astoria, where the board meets. Cameras, a projector with retractable screen, audio improvements and other upgrades were added.
Now they are broadcast live on the Government Access Channel 190 to Charter/Spectrum cable customers in the county. Recordings are posted the next day on the county website.
We hope many Clatsop County residents will take advantage of this service; it’s an excellent step toward more transparency.
With tongue firmly in cheek, we will note that it’s not always going to be scintillating viewing. Government meetings invariably move at a pace that causes many to chafe, in part because our elected and appointed officials must follow myriad rules to ensure the legality of actions taken.
Later the channel may be made accessible for groups to produce public-access programming. But first, staff will monitor for any technical issues.
Clatsop County government plays a significant part in our lives. It is pleasing leaders have worked through several technical delays to introduce this way to make the commissioners’ decision-making process more visible.
Clatsop County Board of Commissioners meet 6 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays. Broadcasts are on the Charter/Spectrum cable Government Access Channel 190. Recordings will be posted the next day on the county website at www.co.clatsop.or.us