Sylvania podcasting city council, other meetingsWritten by Autumn Lee | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sylvania residents can now monitor City Council proceedings from the comfort of their homes.
In late January, Sylvania City Council became the fifth municipality in the nation to offer “podcasts,” audio digital recordings of its meetings so residents may download them at their convenience, Councilman Mark Bula said.
Bula recorded the first podcast in late January with later ones ranking in the top 25 to 50 downloaded political podcasts in the country, he said.
“Accountability of government officials is important, but I want it to be more than that,” Bula said.
Bula personally records any city council or other public meeting he attends, he said, to “supplement the traditional means of people physically attending meetings or requesting a paper transcript.”
When he ran for office last year and was nearly out of the campaign trail, Bula noticed many Sylvania residents’ interest in public affairs tapered off dramatically and some were even surprised by certain issues because they had no knowledge of them, he said.
To alleviate the problem, Bula took the initiative to ensure people remained informed by using a small portion of his campaign funds to keep up with advances in technology. With this funding, he said, he pays for an iTunes subscription, which he uses to broadcast meetings over the Internet.
He transfers his audio recordings to www.markbula.com, which directs visitors to iTunes to upload meeting recordings. Residents then can access the audio files at any time and directly download them to their personal computers at no cost.
Sylvania resident Alan Hogan said he thinks the availability of the podcasts is a good idea for residents who cannot make it to a meeting, though he did not know city council offered such recordings.
“I’d like to review the technology to see if they stream the meetings [for quicker downloads],” Hogan said, “because I’m not a fan of long downloading sessions on my computer.”
Another Sylvania resident, Karen I. Tank, expressed a similar concern.
“For me, personally, it wouldn’t be an advantage [to download the meetings], because I have an older computer,” Tank said.
If she had access to a faster operating system, she said she would be likely to check out a recorded podcast.
Residents will not have to expect long download times with broadband connections. Within less than a minute, depending on the speed of their Internet connection, they can download a meeting.
Bula encourages residents to pick up a council packet (or go online to his Web site for one) prior to meetings so they can follow along with greater ease.
By doing so, Bula said, residents can also see how each council member votes.
Bula said he hopes, in time, this alternative to keeping the public informed will be a steppingstone to other technological advancements to provide key information.