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The Suburbanite
  • New Franklin debates pulling plug on meeting webcasts

  • Council members are now in the process of approving a council-meeting video survey to determine how many people are watching the taped meetings.

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  • Since Time Warner Cable's elimination of the city's cable access channel, city officials have taped and posted city council meetings to the city of New Franklin website at www.newfranklin.org.
    “My thought on taping these meetings is that there are two purposes,” said Councilman-at-large Joseph Parsons during a discussion Oct. 16. “One, for the public to watch them when they like, and secondly – equally important in my mind – is to have a record of these meetings.”
    Council members are now in the process of approving a council-meeting video survey to determine how many people are watching the taped meetings.
    The survey would include four questions: is this your first visit to view a city council meeting? How did you hear about the council meetings being taped? If you viewed a city council meeting, how long did you stay on the site? And, did you find the video helpful? Viewers would also be required to complete the survey in order to leave the video page on the website.
    Council made no formal decision regarding the survey, but Councilwoman-at-large Judy Jones suggested that council and the administration explore the possibility of grant funding to defer the costs of its video-taping program. The city currently pays a private video company $150 per meeting for video-taping services.
    Ward 1 Councilman Paul Adamson said he would like to first see the results of the survey before making any further decisions.
    Some residents in attendance questioned why the meetings were no longer aired on local cable channels. Law Director Thomas Musarra explained that over the past decade, changes in Ohio law have inexorably taken the power out of the hands of local municipalities negotiating cable franchise agreements with cable providers. Most notably, in 2007,  Governor Ted Strickland signed Senate Bill 117 into law, creating a new, state-issued video-authorization process to replace the local cable television franchise process.
    “In our agreements with Time Warner, we (had) requested Time Warner tape our meetings,” Musarra said. “But our state legislators in Columbus have been slowly taking away our rights to negotiate telecommunications agreements (locally).”
    While minutes of all meetings are recorded, resident John Lovich said continuing to tape the meetings in order to have a verbatim record of the proceedings is important.
    “I think in this age of technology, using every medium available is important,” he said.
    TUDOR HOUSE
    Council also approved the extension of the “peak season” at the Tudor House from its current May 15 through Oct. 15 to May 1 through Oct. 31.
    While higher rental and tour fees are charged during the peak season, Musarra explained that the move did not require formal legislation since it was not changing the amount of those fees. He added that anyone with an event already scheduled during the new peak season would be “grandfathered in” at the older rate.
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