Town's meetings should be video recorded
To the Editor:
Dear fellow citizens of the Town of Canton:
My name is Chris Dailey. I am a veteran and owner of the local self storage business and as the town troublemaker I have observed a problem that I would like the townsfolk to consider.
I think that the town needs to video record all its meetings. After I made public a problem I had with a board member, townsfolk asked me to start a petition to let the town decide this important issue. This petition was submitted and accepted by the board of selectman meeting held May 12, 2011.
The town is light years behind in keeping minutes of all their meetings at present the only records of every meeting are notes from a secretary, usually Kathy Hutchins. No other means of recording these proceeding is presently used, not even an audio tape recording. Kathy
does try to do her best but I find that a lot of the important meetings topics are excluded from the minutes. This would eliminate this problem.
A reoccurring theme at a lot of the meetings I have attended is a board member denying things they claim had never said. This “he said, she said” almost tore the heart out of this town with all the bickering that was connected to the recent canceled town relocation project. The name calling and allegations leveled by both sides made me ashamed. I believe one of our present selectmen concurs if people know that they are being recorded it appears to keep tempers in check during heated discussions.
Presently two of the selectmen have spouses that are employed by the town in some capacity I hope that this does not offend as it is not intended to, I respect and appreciate there commitment to the town. One of these has a spouse serving as a highway foreman, the other has a spouse working under him in his capacity as a water district trustee, also has his mother serves as town clerk, jack of all trades for the town. A third member also serves as fire chief of the town. The appearance of possible conflicts of interest appears obvious.
As former president, Reagan used to say about the Soviets “trust but verify”, video is a good beginning.
I think that exposing people to the working of the town and making it easier to access records right from your own home will enable citizens to better keep up with the community projects and planning. Some might chose to serve on a board or committee.
Another advantage to using this system is the money that could be saved by not having the town clerk required to be at meeting as a secretary saving her wages and freeing up her time to do more important town business.
I have somewhat limited knowledge of the equipment needed to connect to the cable system but I personally purchased a complete internet ready color observation system for my business for less then $400, this has no sound, but I think a similar one with sound could be installed in the town office to record all the meetings and a portable camera could to be used at meetings occurring elsewhere,
This all should be paid for out of the money the town has received for many years from local cable viewers via the access channel franchise fee, last year this was approximately $750, and two years ago this fund was robbed to buy a new office computer. I think, as taxpayers, the cable subscribers deserve better, paying the town the fee out of their monthly cable bill without any returns is at the least unethical and I consider it a separate tax on cable subscribers that is not shared by the whole town. In other words my high tax bill does not reflex the added money charged to my cable bill. I feel ripped off.