A one-year pilot program that supplied audio-only transcriptions of Lake County Board committee meetings for public use has been tweaked to include their filming and transmission over a public access channel and a county website in a move to further reflect transparency in local government. The county board’s Finance and Administrative Committee approved the measure during its Feb. 7 session.
According to a press release, as of Feb. 25, “All Lake County Board standing committee meetings will be available to watch on www.lakecounty.tv and Lake County’s public access television channel (LCTV). Filming committee meetings will allow the public to see all the work that goes on at the committee level and have a deeper understanding of the issues.”
Discussions on the issue took place at a meeting in mid-January, where the committee members reviewed options on the proposal, including using one employee to film with a single camera. While estimates had not been obtained, it was concurred that no appreciable cost factors would be incurred by utilizing in-house personnel. As a result, no full county board vote was necessary for approval.
Board chairperson, Sandy Hart (D-Lake Bluff) related the change in her Feb. 12 remarks, and in the release.
“I’m proud of what our board continues to accomplish around transparency. We want residents to hear the concerns and deliberations of programs and services that take place at these meetings. Often times, people that want to attend meetings can’t because of their busy schedules. Filming all standing committee meetings will make this information accessible to all Lake County residents.”
The county board meetings have been televised live, and the county’s Finance and Administrative Committee meetings were also broadcast in the same fashion. The practice was discontinued in 2017, based partly on low viewership numbers, as well as issues with signal reception for television and internet through cable and satellite media outlets. The one-year pilot program, initiated last year, sought to present audio format of the committee meetings while maintaining the video and audio feed for county board meetings.
“It was a one-year pilot program that they always had planned to revisit,” said Brooke Hooker, the county’s Interim communications manager. “It was felt that the audio being available for all the meetings would be sufficient and the conversation came back up over the course of the last several months. They believed this to be a real transparency issue in that some people can’t attend the morning meetings.
“Many thoughtful questions occur at the committee level, where the work is all hashed out before being brought to the full board,” she said. “These are weighty, important discussions.”
Hooker was named as the county’s Interim communications manager, replacing Jennie Vana, and served as a member of the Lake County Communications team for 17 years. She is responsible for launching the county’s social media presence and best known for interacting with residents during major countywide emergencies such as the 2013 and 2017 floods.
She also said video of the meetings being available for access by the public is an advantage to understanding how county business is conducted.
Financial and Administrative Committee chairperson Paul Frank said, in the release, “We are excited to be able to enhance transparency by showing the work being done in committee meetings at no additional cost to taxpayers. Lake County Board meetings are already being broadcast, so the equipment and staff resources are currently in place. That means we can film committee meetings within our current structure.”
The committee meetings will not be broadcast live, but recordings will be available within 48 hours after the specific committee meeting, and viewed anytime at the www.lakecounty.tv website address. Meetings will also be replayed frequently on the Comcast Cable public access channel, LCTV. AT&T customers can view LCTV on Channel 99.