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County board votes to no longer record important monthly meetings

May 09, 2018 03:08PM ● Published by Editor

By Joe Friedrichs of WTIP - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 12:30 pm

The Cook County Board of Commissioners will no longer live stream or record video of certain meetings where all the commissioners will be present, as well as the county administrator and other county staff.

In breaking with the tradition of recording Tuesday meetings of the county board, the third Tuesday of each month will no longer be recorded. These meetings are now called 'committee of the whole' meetings and typically start at 5 p.m. Committee of the whole meetings were not live-streamed leading up to the decision made Tuesday to end the recording. However, a recorded video of the committee of the whole meetings was available for access on the county’s YouTube page. Typically the recorded committee of the whole meetings was available within 24 hours of the meeting's adjournment. Following Tuesday’s unanimous vote by the county board to end any video recordings of the meetings, there will no longer be any access to the discussion during the committee of the whole of the meetings unless someone is present during the event.

The commissioners and County Administrator Jeff Cadwell listed a variety of reasons for why they did not want to continue recording meetings of the committee of the whole, including the fact it makes transparent communication more challenging, according to Commissioner Myron Bursheim.

Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk claimed that having a camera record committee of the whole meetings forced some local residents to take medication in order to feel comfortable appearing before the county board.

In addition to no longer recording the committee of the whole sessions, any recorded meetings of the county board will have a new look following the end of an agreement with Good Measure Media in which the local business recorded a majority of meetings where a quorum of commissioners was present. Rather than a having someone physically present to record the meetings, a camera mounted near the ceiling in the commissioners’ room will now record any meetings that the county elects to keep footage of.

At this point, the county board plans to continue recording its regularly scheduled meetings that start on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 8:30 a.m. 

In more news from Tuesday focused on video recording county board meetings, the new system led to confusion from at least one local couple who felt comments made about them prior to the start of the meeting was edited or removed during post-production of the recording.

Carol and Nick Burger sent an email to WTIP that said several members of the county board mentioned their name prior to the meeting regarding a new ‘Citizen Budget Committee.’ The Burgers claim at least one commissioner spoke of them in a derogatory tone and that those statements were removed from the archived footage.

In response to these claims, the county sent the following statement to WTIP:

Cook County has a new live-stream and video system in the Board of Commissioners Room at the Courthouse to broadcast and record its meetings. The system, that includes a camera mounted on the ceiling, was used for the first time at the May 8 Board of Commissioners Meeting. This camera system is dual purpose – it has the ability to live-stream meetings on-line and is also programmable to record meetings for a specific time.

At the May 8 Meeting, the live-stream function hosted through the County’s website was turned on 17 minutes prior to 8:30 am, when Board Meetings begin to test the system. YouTube was open so the stream was being captured, but the actual video event was not scheduled to begin recording until 8:30 am. If someone was following the livestream event, the first 17 minutes prior to the start of the Board Meeting would have been viewable. Both the live-stream event and the recording ended when the meeting was adjourned, and camera was shut off. It takes approximately five to 10 minutes after the event ends to process the live-stream into an archived recorded video, and only includes the video taken between the scheduled start and end times. The 17 minutes prior to the start of the Board Meeting and the scheduled recording start time, is not retrievable.

“It would be similar to having your smart phone in the camera mode and watching whatever is going on in front of the camera; however, the recording doesn’t begin until you actually press the record button,” Cadwell said. “Which explains the difference between footage viewed through the live-stream event and the archived recording available afterward. The County does not edit any video footage of public meetings. We are using and getting used to a new process that was previously provided by a contractor and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.”

To listen to the interview, please follow this link to WTIP's website:

http://wtip.org/county-board-votes-no-longer-record-important-monthly-meetings
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