Friday’s specially called City Council meeting was a disaster, as Matt has detailed. The five hours of public comments, with each speaker allotted a minute and a half, were plagued with technical difficulties. At one point, because they were having so much trouble figuring out whose turn it was to speak, Mayor Eric Johnson suggested unmuting about 170 people who were waiting to speak. This would have been a fantastic move if the Council’s agenda had included the item “Strategies for getting a clip of our meeting on Twitter.” So the IT folks at City Hall have work to do.
The first thing they should do is show us our elected representatives. If you are going to call a special meeting so that the public can address the Council, then we need to see the Council, all 15 of them. Instead, we got to look at the top of Johnson’s head for four hours, as he called the names of speakers (his head was replaced by Councilman Adam Medrano’s head for about an hour, when Johnson stepped away to attend to, um, something). What were the other 13 council members doing during the five hours of public comment? Can I swear to you that no council member was getting in a Peloton workout while the meeting played in the background? Can I say with certainty that no council member was tucking into a plate of spicy wings while watching old episodes of Airwolf on YouTube? Do I know that a single unseen council member was paying attention? The answer is no.
The Dallas City Council uses Webex. It has the capability to show multiple video feeds. If the Council is going to meet, if it is going to hear the concerns of its constituents, then let’s see who is paying attention. It’s time to turn on the video.