Letter to the Editor – Transparency in City Government

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After seeing no movement on HB 889, mandating that city council and independent school districts (of a certain population) video record and post online their open meetings, I called the author State Rep. Pat Fallon.

I told a staffer that I attend as many council meetings as possible, but sometimes miss and can’t catch up later because my city won’t video record its open meetings.

Residents have been told if we care, we will show up and that audio recordings are “enough” transparency, but how are we to know whom is speaking? On a council including five men, would an average citizen know each member by their voice alone? Of course not.

Shortly after, I was invited to testify before the Texas Legislature’s Technology Committee. I recorded my remarks through Rep. Fallon’s closing statements on our family’s HD camera and small tripod (http://bit.ly/HB889). He said doing this in 1993 was cutting edge, in 2003 it should be done, but in 2013, it’s been 20 years.

Grapevine should be a leader, not 20 years behind the times. Transparency should be embraced, not due to state mandate, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Kathleen Thompson

1 Comment

  1. I agree with your statement. It is very frustrating to listen to the audio recordings of city meetings and understand who is speaking. I actually sent an email to the city secretary about a year ago with my frustrations and suggestions to either video tape the meetings or to suggest to those speaking to identify themselves prior to speaking so that citizens listening to the audio recording would know who was actually speaking. I think it is important for citizens to know what their representatives have to say, as I would think council members would want citizens to hear their comments/views on the various matters at hand. Today’s technology allows for very easy video recordings of meetings and upload to the city website at minimal expense so that cannot be the reason for not providing that avenue of transparency. I would second your comment about Grapevine embracing further transparency as an act of will than an act of force.