The City of Tamarac Must Commit to Transparency by Broadcasting Commission Meetings to the Public

Here is an example of how residents can watch Coral Springs City Commission Meetings led by Mayor Roy Gold. Moments such as these with Ramblewood Elementary Children singing to the Commission can be seen by residents at home if meetings are broadcast like other cities.

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It’s 2012 and the City of Tamarac still isn’t broadcasting their workshops or city commission meetings to the public.

When Beth Talabisco first ran for Mayor in 2006, this was her platform. She even had campaign mail outs saying that was one of her priorities.  Maybe it was looked into and it was too cost prohibitive.  When I spoke in front of the Mayor and Commissioners last week, they didn’t mention anything about it.

If the city believes it’s too expensive, I want to assure them it’s not.  Local public high schools are already broadcasting their games, so why can’t the City of Tamarac?

After a considerable amount of research with other cities that broadcast or “stream” their meetings over the internet, I have found out that if Tamarac wanted to start out by streaming their meetings over the internet, it would cost less than $10,000.

The city of Tamarac says it “Commits to Transparency,” on its website. Show the residents this is true and start broadcasting meetings.

Broadcasting or streaming meetings is nothing new or different. There are over 30 cities in Broward County and 19 of them already broadcast their meetings:

  1. Coral Springs
  2. Cooper City
  3. Dania Beach
  4. Davie
  5. Deerfield Beach
  6. Fort Lauderdale
  7. Hallandale Beach
  8. Hollywood
  9. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
  10. Lauderhill
  11. Margate
  12. Miramar
  13. Oakland Park
  14. Parkland
  15. Pembroke Pines
  16. Plantation
  17. Pompano Beach
  18. Sunrise
  19. Weston
According to Lauderhill Mayor Kaplan, Commission meetings have been televised on Comcast for years.

Susan Poling, City Clerk for Cooper City, says that besides using cable, they use live streaming using their own equipment via Granicus, which is a company that specializes in streaming government meetings.

Matt Hoffman, Broadcast Communications Coordinator with the City of Coral Springs, has been streaming meetings since 2003. He says that they bought a Streaming Video Appliance for only $3,700 and pay $800 yearly for the multi-cast stream support.

Margate Records Coordinator Carol DiLorenzo, says that the City of Margate broadcasts the audio only of City Commission meetings.  The broadcast is live, and it’s heard on their Public Access Channel, Channel 78 through Comcast.

Parkland City Manager Caryn Gardner-Young says they stream their meetings but they also televise them if you have Comcast.

Pompano Beach Communications Director Sandra King says it was citizens that made the request to City Commissioners that got it done. The City of Pompano Beach video tapes all City Commission Meetings. They also broadcast the Commission Meetings live and rebroadcast them nine times during the week on Ch. 78. They also web stream the Commission Meetings live.

Sunrise City manager Bruce Moeller, said at first they used Comcast, but then resorted to streaming.   Residents can go to the site any time and watch the streamed video.  It coincides with the agenda, so that you don’t have to watch the whole video.  You can find the part on the agenda you’d like to see and click on that area.

Now I know that broadcasting and cable all sounds expensive, so maybe Tamarac should take this in baby steps.  According to the recent Tamarac citizens survey of 629 residents, 86% of them have internet access in their homes.  So before jumping headfirst into broadcasting, the City of Tamarac should first look into streaming their meetings over the internet for a relatively inexpensive cost.

Eric Powell, Production Manager of Beacon TV, said the city could purchase a Tricaster portable production unit for less than $10,000.  High schools such as Cypress Bay and Nova stream their games using the tricaster, and Tamarac can too.  The city already the audio in the commission chambers, all they would need is the video and they would be set for live streaming.

Once we’re set up on live streaming for the workshops and commission meetings, then we can eventually move on to cable and other options in the future.

About Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Tamarac Talk and Coral Springs Talk. Tamarac Talk was created in 2010 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Tamarac and to give resident's a forum. We are not affiliated with the City of Tamarac. That's why this site can be occasionally opinionated and obviously open.

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  • Patti Lynn

    Sharon,

    Thank you for a darn good investigation. “Back in the day,” the excuse was that the Commission didn’t want the public to see their antics, (a commissioner yanking off his toupee to throw at the Mayor),now the story is that it is not cost effective.

    Figures can be made to say anything. If the City can afford the ridiculous car allowances that it offers the Commission, it certainly can broadcast meetings.

    In the alternative, they should stop using the word transparency. Just ask yourself, what would happen if people were able to watch what the Commission does? The scenarios are endless.

    Thanks much for your work on this. Oh, have you looked into when the commission will start allowing residents to speak on matters under discussion at the Workshop Meetings?

  • Kahuna

    It’s time for the city to start streaming their meetings so everyone can see what is going on. Streaming is best because not everyone uses Comcast as their TV provider. Considering the size of the city budget, the $10K cost wouldn’t even be noticed. It would be approximately .001% of the annual budget.

    The current budget contains $50K to for website design. Who’s redesigning it? Michelangelo?

    What about the tremendous amount of money spent on the Tam a Gram and the annual water department report, all printed on top quality paper stock?

    They’ll probably spend more than $10K changing the city letterhead and signs to show Beth Talabisco as Mayor again.

  • Laurie G.

    I would appreciate it if the meetings were streamed on the computer live but at night like other cities do. I work and can’t come to meeting during the day. I would tune in and watch after dinner or I would watch it later if they could run a repeat. I don’t think the population is the same as it used to be where people could come to all these daytime meetings. just my 2cents.