Keeping council meetings honest

first_imgIn Torrance, the cost is $189,000. That’s how much it cost to purchase and install a high-tech system that enables City Council members’ votes to be automatically logged, tallied and then displayed simultaneously on four 46-inch LCD panels. Mayor Frank Scotto pledged he would install such a system during his campaign last year. Scotto and other political opponents of former mayor Dan Walker believe the system was “critically important” to putting a stop to the political gamesmanship they charged was rife during Torrance City Council meetings. “People might say this is an expensive way of accomplishing that, but this is the true, perfect way to ensure nothing can be manipulated,” Scotto said. “You’re going to see 6-1 votes more often, you’ll see 5-2 votes more often now. ? This way (panelists) can’t hide what they truly feel about an item because they’re going to have to vote privately.” TORRANCE: High-tech, $189,000 system will display votes all at once. By Nick Green STAFF WRITER What price democracy? Previously, panelists would vote verbally one at a time when called upon by the city clerk, with the mayor voting last. Scotto noted that at times, once it was clear which way the political wind was blowing, council members would not vote their conscience, instead jumping on the winning side of an issue. The new voting system also diminishes the power of the mayor, who – as the last to vote – would break 3-3 ties. The system itself cost about $42,000. The rest covered the cost of embedding seven panels – each with a privacy screen and a computer – in the existing City Council dais, the LCD panels and a wireless network. That latter component means council members no longer are forced to carry around thick agendas; council members have the agendas in the computers, while city staff can simply plug in and access the system via a laptop computer (the public, however, cannot). The system also tracks how long people speak before the council, which is designed to eliminate charges of favoritism that some people get to speak longer than others. “Nobody will have preferential treatment,” Scotto said. “Everybody will be given an equal amount of time with the clock right in front of them.” Talk too long and speakers will have the word “expired” flashed on the screen in front of them, although city officials say they plan to change that term to something a little less terminal. Information also can be displayed on the large LCD panels, making it easier for the audience to see video or PowerPoint presentations. And the system makes it easier to prepare meeting minutes. Within a year, City Clerk Sue Herbers envisions the council agenda being prepared entirely without paper, making it accessible to the public quicker. Torrance isn’t the first South Bay city to use such a vote-tallying system; Carson and Lawndale use one today, and Redondo Beach had one for years, dating to the 1970s. Tuesday’s council meeting in Torrance was the first time it was used and it was apparently not without its bugs. “This is not progress,” Councilwoman Gene Drevno said at one point, a note of frustration in her voice. But Scotto believes it is. “A couple of months, and it will be old hat,” he said. “It’s something new, and it’s going to take everybody a little bit of time to get used to it.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

ALL EVENTS FREE AT FÉILE CARRAIG ARTS & CULTURE FESTIVAL WHICH KICKS OFF THIS WEEKEND

first_imgFéile Carraig Arts and Culture 2014 will take place Friday 22nd August until Sunday 24th August and once again all events are completely free.Crowds can look forward to their old favourites such as the tea dance, local artists exhibition, arts and crafts workshops, photography workshop, open mic night, craft stalls, ramblers walk, locals live music on the street, family fun day and of course the carnival parade.For the first time Féile Carraig Arts & Culture will organise their own Carnival Parade which will take place on Sunday 24th August at 6pm on Carrigart Main Street, where anyone willing to dress up and join in can meet at the Carrigart Hotel beer garden at 5.30pm to help them make it a spectacular event. Some new events and venues this year include storytelling with Wayne O’Connor, the use of Doe Castle for the drawing day, trad school; where participants can learn to play the tin whistle, fiddle and accordion, a puppet Show in the Bewglass Centre and the Family Treasure Hunt takes place on Mulroy Estate this year.On Sunday afternoon a Carrigart Church Crawl will take place, this architectural tour offers an opportunity to inspect, savour and compare all three churches and reflect upon some of the original thirteenth and fourteen century buildings in Ireland and England drawn upon for elements of their design.Live music will be on every night in both Logues Bar and the Carrigart Hotel. Please note because of such high demand in previous years, some events require pre-booking this year; all details can be found in the festival programme.For information about any of the upcoming events pick up your programme in local shops, bars and hotels this weekend or visit http://www.facebook.com/FeileCarraigArts To volunteer or for information contact the committee anytime on 085 136 0837.The committee would like to thank all their sponsors and local businesses for their continued support this year and they look forward to meeting you all over the weekend at Féile Carraig Arts & Culture 2014. ALL EVENTS FREE AT FÉILE CARRAIG ARTS & CULTURE FESTIVAL WHICH KICKS OFF THIS WEEKEND was last modified: August 18th, 2014 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:EntertainementFeaturesnewslast_img read more