Friday, November 21, 2008

Dowd: When Will Northampton County Council Webcast Meetings?

Lehigh County will soon be doing it. Bethlehem is studying the idea. But Northampton County Council has been trying its best to avoid webcasting its biweekly meetings. Despite spending nearly $650,000 for "renovations" to its star chamber, including the latest technological advances, Queen of Hearts Ann McHale has yet to plug in to the web.

Every council member has been supplied with a fancy laptop computer so necessary I've yet to see one at a council meeting. And despite McHale's claim that she really, really, really wants to webcast meetings, she's done nothing since the remodeling was finished in January.

At last night's meeting, Council member Mike Dowd finally asked McHale what the hell is going on, except he did it politely. He's an ordained minister, after all. Instead of answering Dowd, the Queen of Hearts said, "The first thing is we all have to learn to use the microphone." When Dowd gently pressed her, McHale said, "The camera would go in that corner over there and we would need someone to operate it."

Yeah, she'd need someone to push the on and off button. IT Director Al Jordan, who told me in September that no one on Council had even spoken to him, estimates webcast could cost the county as little as $1,500 total.

To his credit, Dowd continued to press, and Public Works Director Steve DeSalva offered to get something together.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Ann, the 21st Century is calling, you missed the train.

I understand she is ordering the latest gold-plate typewriters for each Council member, progress!!

Bernie O'Hare 4 said...

Is it at all possible these laptops have HD cameras. In that case I couldn't see Angle agreeing to be viewed, pock marks and all....

Dave said...

Off with their heads!

Anonymous said...

webcan the meetings !!! whata hidding Mrs. McHale

A.J.C. said...

Dertinger doesn't seem happy that you write and post audio from the meetings online. I'm sure he's just itching for video...

Bernie, you should do it for them!

Anonymous said...

I've traveled through a zillion little burgs throughout the country and have seen much smaller entities in much smaller places broadcast their public meetings. It's usually a Public Access lead-in to the local Wayne and Garth show, but it's on.

NorCo should co-ordinate with the Jolly Joe show for boffo ratings! Unless, of course, Ann et. al. are simply not ready for their close-ups.

A.J.C. said...

Anon,

I'd prefer Wayne and Garth instead!

Anonymous said...

Bernie, the Big Bad Democratic County Machine is at it again. They are working to undercut a possible County Executive candidate. You will never guess who. More details later. They already have their candidate.

Anonymous said...

Bernie: Emmaus Boro Council uses webcasts. Many, many other communities in the Country do the same. Whats the problem with Northampton County Council?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ye, Emmaus is ahead of the times. Lehigh County has set aside $15k to do it and Bethlehem is considering it.

Webcasting was supposed to bne part of the $650k in renovations. Those are done, so where is the webcasting? Rather than telling me where the camera is supposed to go, tell me that you've spoken to Al Jordan and have a proposal.

It is abundantly clear to me that McHale is dragging her feet. I told Dowd I find this failure "outrageous." He told me that it is better to use words like "frustrating" and we're both right.

Come on, Ann. If you can secretly get every council member a laptop, you can get a video camera in there. In fact, there may be a web cam built into those laptops.

Anonymous said...

Remeber Bernnie, the Grand Renovation was supposed to "only" cost $500K but with a wave of the hand the cost was $650K.

What happened to the responsible Councils of old.