Vote on televised meetings postponed by NCCo Council

By Tom Lehman 10:53pm, January 14, 2014 - Updated 6:56pm, January 15, 2014
VIDEO: NCCo. Councilman Bob Weiner (R-Chatham) discusses his reasoning for tabling resolutions to televise all council meetings.
New Castle County council members tabled two resolutions to televise their meetings on Tuesday, after the sponsor of the motions said he wanted to revise the pieces of legislation.

WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.

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The resolutions were tabled at the request of Councilman Bob Weiner (R-Chatham), who said he heard significant constructive criticism from his colleagues.

Under Weiner's proposal, council meetings would be broadcast live on television and streamed online to help improve accessibility and transparency. Recordings would be replayed on NCCTV and available for on-demand viewing on the Internet.

"I decided to table, re-work these two resolutions and bring them back with the suggestions made by those who had the best interest of the public in mind," Weiner said.

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Although council offers audio recordings of meetings on its website, it does not offer video from those sessions. Legislative bodies in Wilmington, Smyrna and Sussex County offer either televised or streaming video of meetings.

The councilman said he discussed televising county council meetings with John Rago, Wilmington City Council's communications and policy director. Both groups use the same chamber inside the Louis L. Redding City/County building for meetings.

He said county council could contract with the city to use staff and equipment from the city's government channel, WITN 22, to record its meetings.

"The real cost is the camera crew, everything else is already owned or free. The posting of it doesn't cost a thing. Archiving doesn't cost a thing," he said.

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Weiner said the revised pieces of legislation would define the cost as being between $26,000 and $52,000. He indicated that Rago believes the actual cost will be slightly lower than the higher projection.

The tabled resolutions didn't include a fiscal note or specify how the council meetings would be recorded.

Council President Chris Bullock (D) said he would reserve judgement on the revised motions until he saw more details.

"It's premature to say, I need to see the language. I need to see what it's going to cost us, and some of the particulars in terms of editing, when it's going to air and who's going to control the process," Bullock said.

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The process of recording meetings would be implemented by County Executive Tom Gordon's administration, which drew concern from Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick (R). She wants council to have control of the process.

Previously, Bullock had said he would vote against the resolutions and already believed meetings were already accessible enough.

He also expressed concern that council members might be more likely to "pontificate" if meetings are televised.

"We do have an open and transparent process, on the other hand we don't need theater," he said.

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