Debate over livestreaming meetings splits Akron City Council

From The Akron Beacon Journal

A divided Akron City Council will air its public meetings as they unfold.

With dissenting voices, City Council passed legislation (May 1) that amends a contract with WhiteSpace Creative, the Akron firm that manages the city’s official website and records council meetings, then uploads them the next day. The legislation requires WhiteSpace to livestream the meetings instead, a process that gives anyone with an internet connection access in real time.

Proponents of the move say it opens up government to the voters, residents and taxpayers. Even those on the council who admittedly reject social media or lack technological skills have taken note that the public expects convenient access. It’s time to get with the times, they argue.

“The fact is, people aren’t going to come down here to” City Hall to see meetings, said at-large Councilwoman Veronica Sims. “But when you have 200, 400, 1,800 people looking through livestreaming, I don’t really know how much longer we can drag our feet.”

Sims supported the measure, which was first offered weeks ago by Councilwoman Tara Mosley-Samples.

… Despite the apparent interest, President Marilyn Keith of Ward 8, President Pro Tem Donnie Kammer of Ward 7, Bob Hoch of Ward 6 and Mike Freeman of Ward 9 voted against the livestream bill.

None said they want to keep the meetings hidden. To the contrary, each voiced support of open and accessible government that works for the people. But for various reasons, they objected to the livestream plan.

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