Archive for Monday, January 24, 2011

Shawnee council to consider swapping typed minutes for online audio

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January 24, 2011

Shawnee officials continue to weigh cost, transparency and ease of use when it comes to records of their conversations during public meetings.

If the City Council adopts a new committee recommendation, the city will do away with detailed typewritten minutes and instead pay an outside company to record council meetings and post the audio files online.

The change would maintain accessibility to information while saving the city money in transcription fees, members of the public works and safety committee said during the Jan. 18 meeting where they voted on the measure.

“We’re giving transparency, still cutting costs, and I think it’s a win-win situation,” councilman David Morris said.

The city currently spends about $17,000 a year for a professional transcriber to type detailed minutes from audio recordings of the meetings. Those transcriptions are posted online after city staff proofreads them and the council approves them.

Under the new recommendation, city staff would create a brief written summary of meeting actions and post it online. For anyone who wants to hear the conversation, the online summary would contain links to audio files from each agenda item.

The service would cost the city about $3,880 to set up and about $10,000 annually after that, according to a staff report. City staff would spend one or two hours a week creating the summary minutes and linking audio files to them.

The committee discussed a handful of different options for meeting minutes, one of which was simply posting a single audio file from each meeting online.

The downside, members said, would be that such a file — with no tabs or search mechanism to find specific agenda items — would be difficult to use, especially for meetings that dragged on for hours.

“This is not just for us to use, it’s for all the citizens to use,” councilman Jim Neighbor said. “I think we need to have the best possible system.”

One public works and safety committee member, Michelle Distler, voted against the recommendation. She said that she did not feel comfortable voting for the measure without answers to some detailed questions about the process, such as how long audio files would be preserved for historical archives.

In October, city staff recommended that the city abandon detailed written minutes and provide only summary minutes for the public. In November, however, the council tabled the item and directed staff to research options for putting audio recordings online.

The council is expected to consider the committee’s new recommendation at its next regular meeting, on Feb. 14.


RossMurphy 11 years, 6 months ago

It's not a win-win anything. Citizens, don't be gulled by this charade. You would have to listen to the entire thing just to find the place where the chicanery starts. A written report can be scanned, to go directly to th heart of the minutes. This is what is needed to keep an eye on the crooks in this deplorable, dishonest administration. We win, you lose describes it better. This slimy plan deserves your vigorous, outraged response. Worry about money is a red herring. This is a council that wasted more than three million dollars on the dishonest scheme to enrich supporters by telling you we needed a mile and a quarter-long superhighway on Monticello Road. After extracting public money to fill the pockets of their friends, not a penny was ever spent even to fill the gullies on the sides of this road. If they need money to pay a minutes reporter, they can tap into that secret bank account in Topeka. There's enough money there to pay a reporter for the next 200 years, just by using the monthly interest. Think about it. And while you're thinking about it, here is something else for you to ponder: 1. Who was behind the scheme to give a monopoly to the secret company that now owns the former Deffenbaugh trash and mining enterprise? Clue: Its advocate, the woman who proposed it, is still on the council, In New York and New Jersey, until two Federal Strike forces spent 12 years to break it up, the Mafia was willing to murder people to get their hands on such fabulously profitable monopolies 2. Who was behind the land purchase and construction of the so-called "Public Safety" building north and west of the city in the Dismal Hills Estates? Why, when it is distant and difficult to get to the scenes where fire and police forces are most needed? The real need was and is seven miles to the west, so why wasn't it built there? 3. Why is all this money being spent to create a Highway 7 ~ Johnson Drive interchange when Johnson Drive effectively ends at Highway 7? There is very little traffic beyond it. And the Clear Creek overpass? Why was it rammed through without complete planning to learn what it really would cost? The original plan was for 21.4 MILLION DOLLARS. What is it now? Who will benefit? Is it someone who owns land west of Highway 7? 4. Now watch for the rabid responses that will be raised against the mentioning of these questions; the outraged voices that will defend the above; the defenses based on the fictitious need for Growth! Safety! Expansion! 5. And now, isn't it transparent and visible that these crooks, in open defiance of the Kansas Sunshine Law, don't want written records of what they say? 6. They are not all crooks. Michelle Distrler isn't. There may be others, but it's the others that need watching.

~ Ross W. Murphy


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