City Commissioner Justin Troller has been on the job for two years. Long enough to see the need for some changes to the biweekly City Commission Regular Meeting. At this morning’s biweekly commission regular meeting agenda study, Troller asked why the Friday studies weren’t televised.
Many of the staff and some commissioners were preparing to leave to attend another meeting. They stopped to answer. Though some other commissioners present felt cameras could inhibit give and take, they agreed with Troller’s call to have staff look into the best methods and costs to televise the agenda studies. With that information in hand, they promised to then fully consider Troller’s idea.
Troller later pointed out the City Commission Regular Meetings are televised. He added that he knows many who record the meetings to get a better understanding how the city operates.
Troller stated those citizens don’t get the full picture. While they may see the commissioners offer little argument during a televised meeting, it might be because most discussion took place three days earlier at the agenda study.
He offered the example of the decision to approve red light cameras. Without seeing the agenda study, “People will never know I had questions before we approved it,” Troller said.
Troller points to the intent of the state’s “Sunshine” laws. The set of laws offers methods and penalties to improve transparency of the actions of governmental bodies.
Troller explained that televising the agenda studies would benefit the citizens, “It seems a lot of government is closed to the people they serve. Let people see what we do.”
Even televising the agenda studies won’t let citizens see all of what comes before that regular Monday meeting. Even with the Friday morning study, commissioners don’t have much time to focus on items slated for their Monday meeting.
On Wednesday night. commissioners receive the agenda from the city staff. On Friday morning, they meet with the City Manager Doug Thomas, and City Attorney Tim McCausland. Various city staff are also present in case commissioners have need of specific information. From time-to-time, other staff and citizens are available to present or answer questions about specific projects. Members of the media are almost always present.
Troller also said the Wednesday night to Friday morning cycle seems too brief, “It’s doesn’t leave us a lot of time to meet with staff.” He prints out a copy of the agenda items to carry everywhere on Thursday, “I really study the issues, but there’s not always a lot of opportunity.”
He concedes the quick turn around might have been designed with a purpose in mind. “Government doesn’t move fast. That might help move it faster.”