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In an effort to increase the awareness and visibility of town meetings, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) has begun to discuss ways to record certain town meetings.
Currently, only the monthly Planning & Zoning Commissions have audio recorded. Occasionally, citizens will record video of meetings on their own; however those meetings are not always posted for consumption by the general public and, even if they are posted, the recordings can be edited to emphasize or minimize aspects of meetings that are of interest to the person recording and thus don’t always show the meetings in their entirety.
“Our goal is to have all relevant town meetings videotaped and uploaded onto public access cable channels. It’s important for our town government at all levels to be transparent about their processes,” said First Selectman Christine Goupil at the Sept. 4 BOS meeting. “Bringing our BOS meetings into the homes of Clinton citizens will be enormous step forward in providing good governance.”
Goupil said that the first step of that process is to retrofit the Rose Room and Green Room in Town Hall—the two rooms most often used for the different board meetings—with updated audiovisual technology.
Goupil said 65-inch monitors would replace the projector screens currently used. The advantages given for using by the monitors include the mobility of the system, the higher resolution available, and compatibility with outside technology such as laptops, smart devices, and tablets for presentations. The estimated cost to retrofit both rooms with the new equipment is $5,000, which is already in the budget.
A second step the town is considering is finding a way to broadcast the meetings on local public access TV through a provider such as Valley Shore Community Television, Inc. As an example, Goupil said that the Town of Deep River uses VSCTV a volunteer network to film meetings.
“VSCTV has offered to loan the audiovisual equipment to town volunteers or through a program utilizing staff at VSCTV to videotape town meetings and events. Video of our meetings would be processed and uploaded for public view. Links to the content would be placed on the Town of Clinton website for easy public access,” said Goupil.
The cost estimate for using VSCTV to record and upload the meetings is around $6,000 a year for just the BOS meetings.
Goupil said the BOS would review the options in the coming weeks and moving forward with one or both of them.
“As first selectman, I firmly believe our democracy is based on accountability. Our citizens are only able to participate in our democratic process when they have all information about the activities, finances, and policies of government. The solutions outlined will be part of that accountability,” said Goupil.
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