By Roz Rogoff
Broadcasting DSRSD MeetingsUploaded: Dec 15, 2011
I missed the External Affairs committee meeting at the Dublin San Ramon Services District on Wednesday afternoon. This was the meeting where the committee would discuss the feasibility study on broadcasting video of the Board meetings. It was supposed to start at 5:30 pm, but it was already over when I got there. Director Dan Scannell rescheduled it to 4 pm, so even though I was half an hour early, it was over by five.
Director Dawn Benson, Community Affairs Supervisor, Sue Stephenson, and local activist Andrea (her correct name this time) Renzulli were there waiting for me. So at least by being early I didn't keep them waiting another half-hour.
Stephenson reviewed the options from the Staff Report. The conclusion was that there isn't enough interest in videotaping the DSRSD meetings to spend $100,000 to upgrade the Boardroom and hire TV30 or another contractor to record and broadcast the meetings.
Last summer, when the Directors voted for the feasibility study, Stephenson told me if the audio used to transcribe minutes could be improved, they could put those recordings online. I brought some information from a company called Soniclear, which provides software for recording meetings on a Laptop or Desktop PC.
The laptop package is $1500 for two site licenses. The Government Boardroom Desktop with a mixer for 8 microphones plus training, support, and accessories is $5400. This would be a one-time expense, doesn't require upgrading the Boardroom for video, would replace the cassette tapes used for transcribing minutes, and could be used for offering streaming audio or podcasts of meetings.
I hope the Directors consider doing this, because even though the surveys indicated half of the people questioned would never watch a televised Board Meeting, there was an interesting breakdown between the website survey and the live interviews at the Dublin Farmer's Market.
Ninety percent of the 52 people interviewed at the Farmer's Market never attended a DSRSD Board Meeting and 54% were either unaware of the District or not interested in it at all.
Of the group of 23 who took the survey on the District's website, more than half said they would watch a video of the meetings a few times a year or all of the time. So those who know about the District and are interested in it, want to know what is happening at the meetings.
Unfortunately most residents of Dublin, San Ramon, and Dougherty Valley don't pay much attention to the Dublin San Ramon Services District until something like Infrastructure Fees or Management bonuses hit the newspapers and the blogs.
In a comment on my last blog on DSRSD, Mary J pointed out that even when Around Dublin goes overboard in its depiction of DSRSD Directors and staff, at least they bring attention to the District and this is needed. I agree that attention is needed, but sensationalism isn't or shouldn't be. Attacks, funny photos, sound bites, name calling, these all seem to get attention instead of rational arguments and factual information.
Two years ago I argued it was worth $12,000 a year to put the meetings on TV30, but if too few people would watch them isn't worth it. Sue Stephenson liked the idea of audio only because it would be more convenient for residents in the District to listen on their own time.
You might think audio wouldn't be much better than reading the minutes of a meeting, but when I read the minutes of the Redevelopment Agency Meeting where Carol Rowley said something to a speaker that sounded condescending, I wondered if she said it that way or that's the way it came across to me in the minutes. So I went to the City offices and played the audiotape of the RDA meeting to hear exactly what was said and how it was said. It confirmed my impression from reading the minutes, but it's possible I might have changed my mind after listening to it.
So I hope the Directors will consider purchasing a digital recording system for transcribing and podcasting meetings. I hope Around Dublin will publish a favorable story when the Directors do something positive, and I hope residents will pay attention to what is really said and done and not what others say about it.