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Thursday, February 18, 2010

City Council Insiders Speak Without Notice

The February 6th edition of the Janesville Gazette carried an article titled, "Hold the Phone" dealing with the use of cellular phone and text messaging technology during city council meetings. After noticing some council members fidgeting with their portable electronics during official meetings, Janesville City Council President Bill Truman made this request:
City Website Excerpt:
The use of audible cell phone ringers and active use and response to cellular phone technology by the governing body, staff and members of the public is discouraged in the Council Chambers while the Council is in session.
Apparently, that is not enough. Despite the admonishment, Council Member Tom McDonald said that probably won't stop him from using his PDA - personal digital assistant - during meetings and he doesn't have a problem with residents contacting council members during meetings.

Currently, Janesville residents have to give their name and address before they can speak at the podium to the Janesville city council, so why should anyone be able to weigh in unannounced and unidentified during a council meeting with a text message to a single council member?
...It'd be interesting to find out whether those text messages opened and read by city council members during official city meetings are subject to the open records law. -- Anonymous
Note: The Gazette article on city council texting was not published on the open Web, it'd also be interesting to find out why.


Yuri said...


I'm sure this is not the first time you're hearing this, but it appears to me that you're making too big a deal out of this one :)

You or anyone else can post a comment on my facebook wall or send an email to my council email address and I will get it practically immediately on my phone. If you have a question you would like to ask while you watch the council meeting on JATV 98, contact me. It's easy.

Lou Kaye said...

I think it's great that council members are using all the electronic social networking tools available. That's not the issue. It's the opening and reading of messages during official council meetings without adhering to the same standards the folks in attendance must abide by. The impropriety is obvious and an affront to good clean and open government. Official meetings have a set time, place and notice for a reason and that reason is special for the undivided attention the council must give to the folks in attendance. Anyone wanting to maintain that level of suspicion and skepticism with the public deserves high scrutiny with every decision they make.

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