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Beaming over streaming — Chicago Ridge inches closer to live meeting coverage

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne

  Some Chicago Ridge board of trustee members think a major stride for transparency is to stream board meetings online but want to avoid the politicking and constant campaign mode seen at neighboring community city council meetings and the village hopes to hammer out the final details at its Dec. 17 meeting.
  Meanwhile at Tuesday night’s board meeting, a familiar figure stopped by to publically throw in his support for the idea.
  Don Pratl, Community High School Dist. 218 board member and Chicago Ridge resident, complimented Trustee Sally Durkin for starting the discussion regarding streaming board meetings. He encouraged the board to approve the motion despite comments that were in last week’s Reporter in which some trustees expressed concern that neighboring Oak Lawn meetings that are televised feature political speeches and campaigning.
  Pratl said Chicago Ridge should still stream the meetings.
  “The objections to bringing the board meetings to television are the same as some of the comments you made in the local newspaper about we don’t want this to be like a neighboring community,” said Pratl, a former Chicago Ridge trustee. “I don’t think that should be the focus of the discussion and I think having this discussion with the community is very important.”

  For the past eight months, School Dist. 218 board members have toiled over a way to stream board meetings and the cost of providing community access. This month the school board has accepted a proposal to stream board meetings. Pratl said the school pays roughly $9,100 to stream board meetings and most of the cost is incurred by installing microphones and audio equipment, which the village has already purchased.

  “We all represent different communities on [School Dist. 218] board and except for me all of the other board members had their meetings on television and they all reported no problems with behavior of trustees or attendees,” he said. “I think you need reach out to you constituents and I think many of them would tell you this is something they would enjoy.”
  Pratl suggested using a free YouTube account, citing a Thanksgiving video showing Great Lakes Naval Academy recruits, featured on Facebook and YouTube by Police Chief Robert Pyznarski.
  Durkin proposed streaming board meetings live either online or via a local television channel. During the Nov. 19 board meeting Durkin’s proposal was accepted pending the cost to broadcast board meetings.
  Two of the six elected officials — Amanda Cardin and John Lind — opposed streaming board meetings due the unknown cost and witnessing how streaming board meetings causes trustees in Oak Lawn to put on a show for the viewing audience. Mayor Chuck Tokar also shared his concerns.
  The village board will make a final decision at the Dec. 17 with full details on the cost and feasibility of streaming the meetings.
  “I think the entire board including myself is in favor of moving forward and we voted on moving forward last meeting,” said Tokar. “I am sure we can get that accomplished shortly.”