Council Revises Rules for Multi-Media Access

At its meeting on January 19, the City Council unanimously adopted revisions to the Rules of Procedure which govern how meetings are conducted.

The major revision replaced a single-paragraph section on how meetings are to be televised, with a much longer section entitled “Multi-Media Presentation of City Council meetings/Workshops and/or Related Meetings.”

Under the new rules, all regular City Council meetings must include live broadcast on public access television, a live stream over the internet, and a videotelephony platform (such as Zoom) allowing public participation by remote connection. Meetings must be recorded and rebroadcast on television, as well as made available via internet streaming.

This is how meetings have been conducted during the pandemic, but the Council in general, and Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio in particular, felt that multi-media access should be spelled out. Plans are to continue providing Zoom access even after the Council returns to in-person meetings.

The multi-media rules will also apply to other boards and committees established by the city charter or by the Council.

The new rules specify that Council/board/committee members and lead staff (e.g. City Manager, Planning Director) must be visible on camera at all times during the meeting.

Detailed instructions for public access and participation via Zoom are also included in the revision.

One important sentence to note in the new rules: “Failure to televise or record any meeting shall not affect the validity of actions taken at the meeting.” In other words, if there is a technical glitch that causes the Zoom, streaming or recording to go down, any actions taken by the Council during that glitch are still legal and binding.

All other City Council meetings or workshops may be televised at the discretion of the Mayor, after discussion with the Council, but will always incorporate Zoom or another videotelephony platform for public access.