I asked Deputy City Clerk Bernie Bacon a short list of followup questions after the Monday's Remote City Council meeting. Included in those questions was why the ability for citizens to record that meeting had been manually disabled? Bernie had said she'd look into during that meeting at the 7:20 mark when I asked during the call. For a basic introduction on the Clerk's office if you weren't aware (from the city website),
"The Clerk’s Office preserves the City’s official records and administers accurate and timely information through various media formats to the meet the needs of City officials, the community and City departments."
Bernie took a long road through numerous replies and persistent urging for more specifics after generalized responses (i.e. "this was done for security reasons" with no further specifics cited). The following questions were not answered as Bernie signed off,
"We are continuously working to improve our processes and will take comments under advisement. So that we may continue to working on essential projects and services during the COVID-19 crisis, respectfully, this will be my last response."
This was on an email chain that included Mayor Barry McDonnell. Barry has said nothing to Bernie's refusal for transparency at this point.
If you believe that Camas is owed answers from elected representatives and salaried employees when a citizen inquires, please email Bernie Bacon (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mayor McDonnell (email@example.com) directly and please encourage them to provide the answers to this question here on this website or directly through email.
1. Who provided technical guidance to the city on arranging this meeting? If you can please list City staff and outside consultants please.
Bernie refuses to disclose who the city staff involved are and if third parties outside of direct city staff are included in the process, be they communications consultants or outsourced IT firms.
2. With typed chat disabled, what steps did the city make to accommodate our neighbors with accessibility issues?
Bernie says that the email address "firstname.lastname@example.org" addresses this - But these comments aren't read in their remote Zoom meetings though? This approach effectively silences those neighbors that can't speak themselves. Part of the benefit of public comment to the citizen is addressing council directly and in front of neighbors.
3. When will (the meeting recording) be viewable on the website?
This is now up per another post, but it took two days to post a video that instantly exports from Zoom at the conclusion of a meeting. Bernie says that this "process" can take up to a week, but refuses to provide actual specifics on why this would take up to a week to post an unedited video of the public record? The city constantly posts videos they'd like to post onto youtube without issue.
4. How was the order of public comment selected Bernie? And who made the decision on how that would be done?
Bernie said "taking all the comments in the order hands were raised proved to be more of a challenge than I thought.". She admitted that she went out of sequence and that was pointed out to here. The first comment taken in the meeting was from a person, a Vancouver-based realtor actually, named Kimbal Logan of Logan & Logan LLC dba Kimbal Logan Real Estate & Investment. Kimball is a Vancouver citizen who said he wanted to voice something on behalf of the Mills Family - one of the families that had their land purchased for this project - Oddly, the Mills property was purchased back in November of 2018 at a $2.5 million dollar cost to you and not at the Monday meeting. Bernie did not say who made the decision to not handle this in a more transparent way with, for example, a display on the screen of actual user queue, a number randomizer, etc.
(read all with context that this meeting did not have to occur)
5. Why was chat disabled for citizens?
Bernie says this was the IT Director (unnamed) response, "With all the recent security breaches reported for Zoom (Zoombombing), the IT Department did their homework and setup the City's Zoom Webinar environment to accommodate the safest meeting experience as possible, as well as providing an open opportunity for resident-participation, including public comment during the meeting. So, everything else including chat, chalkboard, whiteboard, annotations, recordings, shared screens, etc. remain disabled."
6. Why were citizens not allowed to show their faces during comment through video?
Same as above
7. Why was the timer screen made full screen and not a small window? The effect denied neighbors the right to see the reactions of council members and the mayor as they address them for comment
From the screen I was working from, it appeared small. I've heard from MANY, that it was "weird" and we're making adjustments so that it won't fill the screen like that next time - a work in progress. Hopefully the "improved" process will be easier as I was having to do a lot of moving around on screens.
8. Why was the video not posted to the portal immediately after when Zoom makes it available for export and when will it be viewable on the website?
The video was in our Zoom file last night and I forwarded it to our IT Department, as I do not have the skillset to load into the meeting portal iFrame on our website (We are in the midst of moving from one agenda management software to another in the midst of all this). I can tell you this, no one is intentionally doing things the slow way, but with staff out sick or without remote capabilities based on where they live, etc, I have no doubt that IT is doing the best they can with a bigger workload, a remote working environment, etc, to get it uploaded by the end of the week; which is the timeline we strive for under normal working conditions.