We offered the Town a check for over $30,000 to provide web casting. We expected them to deposit the money in the Town coffers with an accounting note that it was to be appropriated for webcasting should the Town now or in the near future provide this valuable service to its citizens. The Town Council displayed little interest in webcasting.
Instead, they took your generous donation to be a hostile act and Susan George only wished to “set the record straight.” They commented on the fact that you COWs did not take time from your busy lives to come and support webcasting.
They did decide to put the matter, item #8 on the agenda of March 13 to, as we understand it, discuss whether or not they want to discuss providing webcasting; a service our fellow communities provided their citizens as a public service.
HERE IS THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE 2/27/07 TOWN OF WOODSIDE
TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
Female Voice: Okay, we have the Consent Calendar. All items on the Consent Calendar are considered to be routine and will be approved by one roll call motion, unless a request is made at the beginning of the meeting that an item be withdrawn or transferred to the regular agenda.
Male Voice: No. 3 states “the Town Manager will provide report on the circumstances surrounding the COW’s attempt to deliver a check to the Town to support a web casting project” so I think Susan should do that.
Female Voice: Are you formally taking that off the Consent.
Male Voice: 3â€¦.
Female Voice: Item 3 is removed.
Male Voice: I would like to make a motion to approve the Consent Calendar, Item 1 only.
Male Voice: Second.
Female Voice: You can just do a voice vote on that.
Female Voice: Okay. All in favor?
All Members: Aye
Female Voice Opposed.
Female Voice: Okay, Item 3.
Male Voice: Uh, Susan it says here that you are going to give us a brief description on what is going on here.
Susan: My report is essentially a written report and it is contained in the body of Item 3, which is in your agenda packet. I presented it to you not for purposes of engendering a discussion about whether we should be web casting the meetings or not, but clearly to place in the public record an accurate version of what occurred in the interaction between the Town and the Citizens of Woodside. But, I will be happy to answer any questions.
Male Voice: I do not have any major questions abut it. I kind of understand a little bit. I did not understand how they said they brought a check to us in December and we never heard anything about it.
Susan: Well they brought the check to us on Valentine’s Day and that was the first that we ever heard that they were interested in web casting.
Male Voice: Okay, I did not hear anything about it until this report came out.
Susan: That is just a little bit after I heard about it.
Female Voice: I believe that Councilmember has an email about
Male Voice: My emails are a disaster area.
Female Voice: Okay.
Male Voice: I do not even want to go there.
Female Voice: Okay.
Male Voice: I would just be interested if there is anything from the public before we make any comments.
Female Voice: Okay, I was just going to ask. Would anybody from the pubic like to make a comment on this item?
Male Voice: No. I do have a comment if I could. I think that it is it is an important matter and I am concerned about the way it is being played in that, it is impossible for the Town to accept a gift for something, in this case I think it is a little bit of a set up in that it is very difficult to accept a gift for a stated purpose when the Council and the Town have not agreed to perform that. What do we do with the money once it is accepted? How do we return it? You know we cannot accept it under false pretences, so I do in fact support the decision of the Town Manager not to accept the funds. Having said that I also think we should put this on the agenda quickly, perhaps at the next meeting if we can, so that we can have a public hearing on it, so that we can hear the public issues and make a decision whether to proceed or not with that. I think it is an important issue and I do not think it is fair to us to leave staff in limbo about what to do about this issue. I think we have to provide some direction one way or another.
Female Voice: I will also like to comment. I think it will take Susan some time to research the ability to get all the facts to bring a report to us, so I am not sure the next meeting would be the most realistic, but maybe Susanâ€¦â€¦.
Male Voice Yeah, before you do though, I am not so concerned about the cost and mechanics and what is going to take on those issues. I would also like to take some input before we even do that. I do not now what the appetite is for the Town to do that, and if it is there, I think we can investigate it and if it is not, we do not need to. I would hate to take the step forward, maybe, I do not know how difficult it will be to investigate costs and expense and maintenance and upkeep and complications and things like that. I sure would like to take a little input perhaps we do have one day to point. I would like to get a few more.
Male Voice: Especially some true public input on this.
Male Voice: But that is my opinion.
Susan: I will tell you how I feel. I think that if the suggestion is that we put on an item that is merely an opportunity for people to come and say their piece of whether they want web casting or not without the Council taking any action on that decision that evening, I think that is fine. I think that before the Council makes this kind of decision you do need to know how much is it going to cost not just to implement it but on an ongoing basis what will the cost be? What will be the impact on the Staff? Where does this fit in your priorities? Is this a higher priority than some other things that are already on the list? There is no way I can do that by next Tuesday. We are already wrapping up the Agenda to get it out for next Tuesday as it is.
Female Voice: Is it next Tuesday?
Susan: Well the packet goes out next Tuesday. So if it is merely just to you know, invite the people to come and put in their two bits about web casting that is fine, but I would ask the Council not to commit to making a decision that evening until we have had a chance to do the kind of Staff work that you need before you can make the decision about how high a priority this is for you and what is involved in it. I would also like to point out that the COW website did have a call for everybody to come town tonight, that this item was going to be discussed by the Council and I note that there was not public input. I would just like to add that for the record.
Male Voice: I think it is an interesting question. I have never taken advantage of web casting. I like the concept in general and would like to know more about it. I am wondering if Paul’s suggestion as you restated it might not be a good idea. Because I think a question would be how much time should you devote and going in what direction based on this one event. I think it is certainly worth considering. I think it is unfortunate that has been positioned as an adversarial kind of issue and that is too bad, but that is the way it is. I would like to know just more about it and maybe an opportunity to discuss it. The result of which is that we can give some direction to Staff or make a request to pursue it in a maybe better informed way before you have to spend a lot of time on it and based on this what has happened so far.
Susan: And that is fine. If people start asking questions about what it will take, I will say I have no clue.
Male Voice: So couldn’t we put it on the Agenda as an information meeting, so I whomever in the community is interested could say more about why and what the benefits are.
Female Voice: Or if they want it or not.
Male Voice: Sure.
Female Voice: I do think it is important to know just how extensive the clamor is out there, and judging from tonight’s turn out, it does not look like it is overwhelming, but certainly before the Council responses I think we need to assess exactly what the demand is and we certainly do not have any way of knowing that at the moment, nor do we know whether this perceived gift came from 1, 100 or a 1,000 people, so there is too much that we do not know to do anything before we get more information. I am certainly in favor of putting it on the Agenda and seeing what turns up and to see what information we get and pursuing it from there one way or another.
Male Voice: I have one question. Did it come from a Swiss Account that was numbered, the check?
Susan: No, it was a Comerica Bank.
Male Voice: Okay, I just wanted to check.
Male Voice: I agree whole heartedly with what has been said here, but I think that I would not direct staff to do it, I think we would direct staff to investigate it, if there is a call for it.
Susan: To investigate what we need?
Male Voice: Just to investigateâ€¦â€¦
Female Voice: Well the first thing is to find out how much there interest there is.
Male Voice: Yeah, what the demand is, that is exactly right. But I would not after taking public input saying we are going to do it. I would say we need to investigate it more.
Susan: Okay, that makes sense.
Male Voice: So move aâ€¦.
Susan: You can direct Staff to put it on as we have just discussed.
Female Voice: As a discussion.
Susan: On the March 13th Agenda.
Male Voice: As an informational meeting.
Susan: Yeah right, exactly.
Male Voice: Do we need to accept your report?
Susan: Yes, that would be appropriate.
Male Voice: And uh, to accept the report in Agenda Item 3.
Male Voice: Second.
Female Voice: All in favor?
All Members: Aye.
Female Voice: Opposed?