How many Woodstock residents would "attend" City Council meetings and participate in Woodstock government, if they could do so by watching the semi-monthly City Council meetings on a public service cable channel right from the comfort of their living rooms or offices?
Generally, audience members only show up at City Council meetings when a topic of immediate concern is on the Agenda or when they wish to address the Council during the Public Comment portion of the meeting. A few die-hards show up with no reason other than civic involvement.
But what if residents could watch the meetings without showing up at the Council chambers in City Hall? What if they could tape the meetings off their cable TV channel? What if they could save the tapes and play them later to review exactly what any particular Council member or the Mayor had said on a given date or about a given topic?
The City of Woodstock maintains no EXACT record of what took place at a City Council meeting or who said what? Yes, votes are recorded and noted. City Council meetings are taped, but the tape is only for the use of the City Clerk, who prepares a written summary of the meeting and then destroys the tapes. Efforts to get the tapes preserved have failed.
What possible reason could there be for destroying the tapes so quickly?
It was explained to me that the tapes belong to the City Clerk, but I don't buy that. The tapes belong to the City and, with the permission of the City, the tapes are quickly destroyed after the City Clerk writes up her understanding of the meeting. The City could just as easily order the Clerk to preserve the tape-recordings and place them on file with the City Manager, where any person or member of the press could have access to them.
Should a question arise later, even at the next City Council meeting, as to who said what, there is no longer any proof.
Many communities and cities broadcast City Council meetings via public service channels on cable TV. Others videotape the meetings and preserve the tapes.
Could this happen in Woodstock? Yes, indeed, IF the residents clearly and loudly tell the City Council that they want this.