Lock Haven City Council discusses use of live-streaming for meetings

LOCK HAVEN — Lock Haven City Council once again discussed the possibility of live streaming or recording council meetings in the future.

City Manager Gregory Wilson presented council with a resolution that would allow them to record their meetings and place them online for the public to view. But, this does not mean council will begin recording meetings.

“Even if this were to be adopted it does not require that council record any meeting,” Wilson said. “But it does enable council to do so in a way for which there would be rules and regulations set in place.”

Wilson worked with the city’s solicitor to provide information for the resolution, he said.

Councilman Steve Stevenson voiced his opposition to the possible live streaming.

“I’m not sure I can totally support it without knowing what the rules and regulations are for time limits for people to speak,” he said. “I don’t think they should stand up here and use us as a platform to pontificate their targeted audience or their cause” that doesn’t involve city business.

“I think it might be unwarranted unless there is a cry from the public,” he said. “If we had big issues I’m sure the public would come out of the woodwork to come see us. But the way it is I think we handle business pretty well and there’s no super big issues to make everybody mad at us.”

Stevenson also expressed his hesitation about having to use taxpayer money for storage of the equipment and videos; as well as the possible staff time that could be needed if a member of the public exercises the Right to Know Law and requests a recording years later.

“I’d rather nip it now with my vote at this level,” he said.

Councilman Bill Mincer, who first suggested council live stream their meetings, asked if there are rules and regulations in place to avoid possible issues.

“Council would adopt a

separate resolution that would address what length of time you would give as a maximum for someone to speak,” Wilson said. “We would have to do some research into what’s appropriate for that … it would be a separate resolution because it would be just specific for rules or regulations for behavior at council meetings.”

Wilson also addressed Stevenson’s concerns about the Right to Know Law.

“Section 9 is specifically in there to notify the public that records will not be retained as public records longer than 90 days,” he said. “Once the

document of the meeting is created, the video, that is a public record until this policy says it is no longer a public record. That is legal under the Right to Know Law.”

“That keeps the amount of infrastructure that we would have to purchase to a minimum otherwise we’d have to purchase a pretty big server to store everything on,” he continued. “That being said, the official legal document that is a record of the meeting of council is the minutes and that is logged.”

If council decides to move forward with the live

streaming, the city could create a YouTube Live page to both record and store the videos, Wilson said.

He also added that live streaming meetings will not take precedence over members of the public who physically attend the meeting.

“That would disrupt the time for the people who physically attended, including members of council,” he said.

Councilman Douglas Byerly voiced his approval of the possibility of live streaming future meetings.

“I believe you know we’re in the 2000s, (Mincer) has mentioned several times when he brought it up, we should put out into the public as much as possible whether one person watches it over 10 years or no one watches it, or a 1,000 people watch it,” he said. “The more that we’re out in the public and they can hear what we’re talking about will be better for us.”

“That’s the way it is in 2019 and we as a city should be a part of that. We should encourage our citizens to watch and listen to us every chance we can get,” he continued.

Mincer said he’d like for council to make it easier for members of the public to access meetings which is why he began asking about live streaming in the first place.

A motion was made by Councilman Richard Conklin to accept the resolution and seconded by Mincer.

The vote was 6 to 1 with Stevenson voting against the resolution.

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