We can’t exactly fault officials in Brookfield-LaGrange School District 95 for ending the practice of broadcasting school board meetings via the teleconferencing app Zoom.
While Zoom can work pretty well if everyone involved is separately using the app — kind of the way Riverside used it when they were not holding in-person meetings — the way the platform was used by District 95 really didn’t suit it.
The meetings themselves have been held in person in large rooms that are acoustically challenged in the first place. There are few microphones and with board members often a soft-spoken group, it could be near impossible to make out what people were saying.
That said, technology has progressed enough that video recording government meetings really ought to be not only a goal for all government agencies, but one they are actively working to implement.
We’re not expecting local school districts to put on productions as sophisticated as those broadcast by Riverside TV or RBTV, but a basic permanent video record of government meetings ought to be doable by now.
At the absolute minimum, government agencies should make audio recordings of all their public meetings available on their websites, alongside past agendas and meeting packets.
There might have been a time early in the 2000s when the technology was too wonky for village hall staffers to manage. But, frankly, you can put together a decent recording of a meeting using an iPad these days. Citizens attending meetings have been doing this for years.
It shouldn’t be too much to ask government agencies to put forth a little effort to make their public proceedings as available to the public as easily as possible. Next budget cycle, let’s make that happen.
More than a touch-up
It’s got to be aggravating for the Riverside Township Board of Trustees, who thought they were about to embark on a pretty routine project of getting the Swinging Bridge some minor repairs and a new paint job, only to see it turn into a huge headache.
Not only does no company seem particularly interested in bidding on the job, the two that have so far couldn’t be further apart in terms of what work they’d do.
We’d say the more affordable of the two — at $115,000, no great bargain — really ought to be dismissed out of hand. That would be throwing good money after bad, and in another 10 years the township would be looking at doing this all over again.
The other option right now is a thorough and complete sandblast/recoat that would last for decades. The trouble is the price tag for that would be $725,000, which is a bridge too far, so to speak, for township trustees.
We’d encourage them to keep at this and get as close to that second proposal as possible. It’s going to be expensive — probably more than the township will ever want to pay. But as the old TV commercial used to say, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”
Later is going to be very expensive, indeed.