Libertyville to record meetings, post online
Libertyville resident Luke Stowe (left) and Libertyville Trustee Jim Moran are shown in the village board chambers. Libertyville will begin recording board meetings to be viewed online. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 4, 2013 1:51AM
LIBERTYVILLE — Can’t make it to the village board meeting? No problem. You’ll soon be able to see on your computer screen exactly what your government is doing.
All village board meetings will be recorded and made available on the village website. If all goes well, Tuesday’s meeting will be the first to be taped.
This marks the culmination of two-and-a-half years of effort, led primarily by Jim Moran, who is now a village trustee, and fellow Libertyville resident Luke Stowe.
Stowe has lived in Libertyville since 2004 and has worked for several local governments professionally. He said he had long believed Libertyville was behind the times by not broadcasting meetings.
“I knew Jim was active in the community, so we started talking about it in the summer of 2010,” Stowe said.
Moran agreed with Stowe from the very beginning.
“Even before I was on the board, I wanted a way for people to see what goes on,” Moran said. “A lot of people, especially people with kids, can’t make it to the meetings. If I wasn’t on the board, I honestly wouldn’t be able to make it either.”
Village President Terry Weppler was supportive after meeting with Moran and Stowe in 2010 and asked the special projects committee to look into it.
Unfortunately, it recommended that the board not go through with the taping because of the estimated cost. Moran said that some of the options considered cost in excess of $100,000.
Then and now, Stowe couldn’t believe the high dollar amounts that were discussed and believed it could be done cheaper.
In the end, he and Moran found a way. As a result of the effort to video record meetings, they began to be audio recorded. And since the board meeting room was now wired for sound, all that had to be done was find a camera that could be attached to the audio feed.
Don Hamil, owner of Jerry’s Service Station, ultimately donated the money needed to make it happen. The amount was under $1,000.
Moran said that every step of the process has been worthwhile.
For example, when he and Stowe first suggested broadcasting meetings, some board members believed nobody would watch the videos. After the audio recordings started, Moran and Stowe discovered that hundreds of people were listening. It stood to reason that they would want to watch as well.
“I would be happy even if it was 10 people,” Moran joked.
Moran and Stowe said they hoped the result of being able to view meetings would be more engaged and involved residents and a more responsive government.
“I hope it increases interaction between the village and citizens,” Stowe said.
A number of local governments broadcast their meetings, but many, including Vernon Hills and Mundelein, do it via a local cable access channel, which means a viewer can only watch the meeting while it’s in progress.
Moran said he believes making the video available online will be more convenient since people will be able to watch on their own schedules.
Broadcasting on cable access is still something Moran would like to see though.
“This is a first step in a, hopefully, ongoing process,” Moran said. “Eventually it’ll be a more robust program.”