The Sartell City Council is considering television broadcasts of more city-related meetings, even though it voted down a motion by member Sara Jane Nicoll to that effect.
For several years, the regularly scheduled Sartell City Council meetings have been broadcast live via local-access Channel 19 cable TV.
At the Oct. 22 city council meeting, Nicoll made a motion to broadcast all committee-of-the-whole meetings, as well as council workshop meetings. Workshop meetings usually deal with budget issues. On a vote of 3-2, the council voted against Nicoll’s motion. Those who voted “no” (Mayor Joe Perske and council members Sandra Cordie and David Peterson) said they are not against broadcasting meetings, but they want to re-examine the topic and find out if it’s feasible to broadcast even more city-related meetings, such as those held by other boards and committees that meet. Council member Steve Hennes voted “yes” because, he said, he has always been fully in favor of total transparency in public meetings.
Nicoll also suggested meetings such as committee-of-the-whole and budget workshops should take place after regularly scheduled council meetings rather than before, as they are now. That way, she said, people already at the regular council meetings could stay for the other meetings that follow. Typically, workshop meetings begin at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. in the city-hall conference room. No votes are taken at the meetings, although an informal consensus is often achieved. After the meetings, council members then proceed to the city council chambers where they conduct the regularly scheduled council meeting before a public audience.
When Nicoll campaigned and after she won her election to the city council, she always placed transparency as one of her top priorities. She has stated many times the public should be able to access easily what is discussed at any city-related meetings, and one way to access those meetings, especially for those who cannot attend them, is via television broadcast, Nicoll noted.
The topic of broadcasting meetings will be revisited by the council at upcoming meetings.