City will live stream meetings

Posted September 12, 2023 at 1:35 pm

Albany City Council held its monthly meeting last Tuesday, September 5, with all members present.
Even though issues pertaining to water took up the majority of the meeting, other items of business were discussed, including that of going forward with streaming council meetings live via Facebook.
The idea of going live on the social media platform was brought up by Councilman Junior Gregory back in the spring, and last week he asked the council if they still wished to pursue it.
He had noted earlier that other cities were streaming their meetings on social media and was in favor of Albany doing it as well.
Mayor Steve Lawson said that the council was unanimous in agreeing to it at the time and opened the floor for comment.
Councilman Reed Sloan said that generally, meaning no offense to print or radio media, that people “Eighteen to 40 don’t read the paper or listen to radio anymore,” saying that most people get their information from their phones or computer devices.
Councilwoman Rene York had the only dissenting opinion of council members and spoke on the issue (council member Randy Speck had to leave the meeting early, prior to the discussion).
York told fellow council members she had “concerns” about going online with meetings. She said a lot of counties that stream live “have had chaos and are a big joke now.”
The councilwoman said she had seen verbal and physical altercations break out at meetings being streamed live, and although not likely, “could happen here. I’ve seen fights and cussing at live meetings.”
York said she didn’t want to see that happen here, saying it would make the entire community look bad if it did.
Councilman Gregory countered that the “public comment” period could be “turned off” when going live, which Mayor Lawson and others agreed may be a solution to such a situation.
However, if a meeting is being covered live on a social platform, there may be  questions as to whether or not public comments–unless they fall under Open Meetings rules–being disallowed would be legal.
Since the council had already voted a few months ago to do live Facebook streams of meetings, there was no necessity for another vote.
Mayor Lawson announced that beginning with the council’s next regular meeting, it would be streamed live on Facebook, with the exception of public comments that are made.
The council also discussed a complaint form for anyone wishing to file a complaint under the city’s new Nuisance Ordinance.
Anyone wishing to file a complaint would have to fill out the form, listing the date, location of the violation, violator’s name, owner’s name and other information and check which complaint they are filing about, i.e. weeds/grass, conditions of rental units, dilapidated buildings, etc. and give a summary of the complaint.
Councilman Reed Sloan questioned whether the complaint could be filed by city residents only, or by persons who may live outside the corporate limits.
Local resident Michelle Stockton then asked if a person who lives in the county, but may own and pay taxes on property in the city, could file a nuisance complaint
The council agreed that such people should have a say about the property in the city and opted to include that in the form, allowing persons who live outside the city to file a complaint if they own and pay taxes on property in the city.
Stockton also inquired whether or not work on the sidewalks in the city would be done in time for the upcoming Foothills Festival, with Mayor Lawson agreeing it would be a priority.
In other business:
* Councilman Gregory noted he was still working on the Fire Discovery program which helps to recoup fire calls expenses on insurance for such things as vehicle fires, auto accidents, etc. He said the city could collect up to 75 percent of the costs (for the fire department) on such runs and would provide more information later.
* Councilman James Bray asked about the police department protection equipment, such as bullet proof vests.
Assistant Police Chief Wayne Glover, who announced last month a grant application had been denied for this cycle, said the department was still looking for funding options and grants to purchase protective equipment for the APD.
* Mayor Lawson announced that the annual Boo Fest event will be held on Halloween evening, Tuesday, October 31, from 5-8 p.m. at the VFW Park on Hopkins Street.
The next regular meeting of Albany City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, October 3, at 5 p.m. in the conference room at Albany City Hall and is open to the public.