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Recording Relief?
Shirley King | Avenida Primavera

Listen closely at night. One of the Secretaries of our eleven Citizen Advisory Committees and three Ad Hoc Committees stoically laments while racing to complete Minutes after a monthly meeting. The Recording Secretary, an appointed member, archives for public record the meeting discussions of our Advisory Committees, not including the Design Review Board and the Planning Commission. Not a job for a wandering attention span or the faint-hearted.

Just take a look at the intense demand for the current Recording Secretary of the Ad Hoc Development Review Advisory Committee: capturing all perspectives presented at these meetings - not just fellow Board Members but a very enthusiastic and persistent public; tracking the stream of thoughts both divergent and convergent; writing actions precisely and detailing committee assignments while trying to simultaneously participate equally in mind and voice. Thank goodness it is in the extraordinarily capable hands of Board Member Anne Farrell. But also unfortunately it is in the hands of Anne Farrell whose very important mind is diverted from complete verbal engagement.

An Ad Hoc Committee is formed when pubic interest and opinion have driven critical concerns to the surface - a special task needs to be accomplished - usually in a limited term and with many voices to be heard. The working memory of the committee relies upon the Secretary’s ability to listen without filters to all contributors and then act as a scribe to distill the essential concepts - for the public record but also to ensure committee progress.

Can the Ad Hoc Committees be given the same technology benefits package as the Design Review Board (DRB) and the Planning Commission? Both DRB and the Planning Commission as do the the Ad Hoc Committees attract keen audiences with much verbal input helpful for the public records. By recording the full Ad Hoc meetings for video streaming and sound transcription, the City’s records can capture completely the community’s participation and the reproduction of the extensive discussions - leaving little for misinterpretation and much less for the recording secretary to shoulder.

If cost to the City is a barrier, then a less expensive method and not dependent upon City equipment is a modified web-based conferencing tool, such as GoToMeeting. Each member on the dias can be connected to the audio/video tools on a laptop computer. Once logged in, each one’s contribution is recorded. The Secretary can continue to transcribe the action items. The audio recording is available later for sharing upon request.

If our City values the work of its volunteer citizen’s committee, then they should supply the resources to make them as effective as possible.




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