Wednesday, July 04, 2001

Lights, camera, council

Meetings will be shown on cable

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Starting Tuesday, the unblinking eye of a television camera will capture City Council meetings for replay on city-owned cable.

        “We are hearing that people would like to know more about what goes on,” Councilwoman Jane Davenport said ? Tuesday.

        Longtime resident Billie Runyan, who rarely attends council meetings, said it'd be great if she could catch them on TV. Also, she said, it should slow the rumor mill.

        “I think these people that imagine devious conspiracies happening in public meetings will see that they're really basically dull,” Ms. Runyan said.

        Council's sudden decision — taping begins next week without a formal vote — comes more than two years after the cable system began running. It also comes five weeks before the filing deadline for the November council election.

"A double standard'?
        Earlier this year, council voted 4-2 against allowing political advertising on city cable.

        “It's sort of like a double standard there,” Councilwoman Amy Brewer said. “If you are going to allow yourself to be put out there, let's be fair and consistent with everybody.”

        Mrs. Brewer, who is seeking re-election, favored allowing political advertising in the April vote. The other three incumbents up for re-election — Mrs. Davenport, Mark Flick and Mayor James Mills — were opposed.

        Mrs. Davenport and Mr. Flick said they see no contradiction, and Mr. Mills could not be reached for comment.

        “I didn't really feel it was related,” Mrs. Davenport said.

        The only two declared challengers — electric department retiree James Hause and Main Street resident Gary Casimir — applauded the move to televise the meetings as long overdue. Many other communities, including Cincinnati, already televise council meetings.

Meeting day, moving day
        Mr. Hause agreed, however, that incumbents could get an edge in the election: “It'll give them more exposure.”

        To get the effort off the ground, studio equipment will be transported to council chambers on meeting days, city officials said. Because of technological constraints, meetings won't be shown live. The schedule has not been announced.

        Council is looking into spending $54,000 to install permanent equipment.


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