Daily Archives: May 18, 2012

Politicians should focus on keeping meetings open

By Greg Van Moorsel, London Free Press
Ontario taxpayers know from long experience it’s the closed-door meetings of civic politicians they most need to worry about.

Thanks to the power the digital revolution has given ordinary citizens, maybe their focus should be on open meetings.

Strict rules about what civic councils can and can’t do in private restrict those meetings to personnel and property issues. If the meetings stray into off-limits areas, or even if the politicians gather elsewhere in numbers that can form a quorum, taxpayers are on solid ground to complain. Sometimes, it takes Ontario’s top civilian watchdog to set the politicians straight.

But the digital revolution is rewriting the book on political transparency and accountability, especially in open meetings.

Ontario, as it turns out, has no province-wide rules on whether citizens can record or videotape open council meetings. Some allow it, some don’t. Some leave it up to their mayor. That’s a serious shortcoming when hand-held digital gadgets have made Internet broadcasters and publishers out of citizens interested in civics.

A telling case in point recently erupted in Adelaide Metcalfe, near London, Ont. There, as in much of rural Ontario, the backdrop was the hot potato of wind turbines. Read the rest of this entry

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Sorting the rules on videotaped meetings

London Community News
Adelaide-Metcalfe is one of those little townships with long names formed during the big-is-better days of municipal government in the Mike Harris era.

Located at the west end of Middlesex County, the township is home to 3,000 people — and apparently restrictive policies on open and accessible government.

Earlier this month some residents tried to videotape proceedings of the Adelaide-Metcalfe township council in session. The mayor ordered them to stop and, when they wouldn’t, called in the police. The result has been posted on YouTube.

That’s in sharp contrast to city council meetings in London where media and citizen cameras and tape recorders have long been welcome and where gavel-to-gavel cable TV coverage is the norm.

Read the rest of this entry