Naperville councilman requests review of expanding committee meeting recordings   

wide shot of Naperville city council meeting
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Live and archived recordings of select Naperville municipal committee meetings have been offered as a public service to city residents, business owners, and other interested viewers. The prospect of expanding it further to all meetings was explored briefly at a recent city council meeting.

Resident Derek Miller spoke to the city council at its Dec. 19 meeting and had glowing remarks about Naperville. Miller said there were a number of reasons he and his wife chose to live in the community and like to stay abreast of news through the meeting recordings.

“One important thing to us is all of the transparency,” Miller said. “I get all of the emails of when there are different committee meetings, and things like that, and I look at the agendas. I watch all of the (council) meetings online, and I watch all of the committee meetings that I can online as well.”

Committee meeting coverage limited

For a confluence of different reasons, live and archived recordings of Naperville’s municipal meetings have been limited to the city council and a select number of committees. The twice-monthly planning and zoning commission meetings, for instance, are a part of the offerings.

Miller asked city staffers to make recordings of other committee-level meetings available as well. He pointed to a recent robust discussion that took place at a Sister Cities Commission meeting. He said it would have been valuable to look back at a recording to get an understanding of the full scope of the discussion.

“It would be great if that was something that could at least be looked into, if possible,” Miller said.

Technical, staffing considerations in play

Linda LaCloche, director of communications, said there are a number of resource-related considerations that have played into the current scenario of determining which meetings are available for live streaming and later playback.

“You’re basically sitting in a TV studio right now,” LaCloche said, referring to the council chambers. “This is the only room that is equipped with the equipment to broadcast. We run a control room in back.”

The City of Naperville’s contract with NCTV17 also is a pivotal part of the process. NCTV17 provides the staff to record the meetings within the council chambers, as proceedings are taking place.

Councilman suggests a deeper review

Under the “new business” portion of the council’s Dec. 19 agenda, councilman Ian Holzhauer asked LaCloche and other city staffers to consider looking into the logistics of making additional committee-level meetings available for the viewing public.

LaCloche said such a consideration was broached “five to seven years ago,” but a bidding process squelched the idea at the time. Cost estimates, at the time, for making recordings available in other meeting rooms ran in the range of $700,000.

Holzhauer said he was not prepared to make any firm recommendations, but asked for a more thorough review of what might be done to make recordings available.

“We’re maybe not ready to go that far into it today, but maybe, over the next year, you could look and see what smaller communities do — smaller communities that don’t have our resources,” Holzhauer said. “Is there some way that they’re able to get this information out to the public that’s cheaper than $700,000? That’s a question I have.”

Photo credit: City of Naperville

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