City Hall TV Q&A could stir more citizen interest

May 30, 2003|By BOB MAGINNIS

Hagerstown Councilman Linn Hendershot on Tuesday said that his fear that councilmembers would just "play to the camera" if council sessions were telvised was apparently unfounded. Indeed, Hendershot and others say it has been a positive force in helping citizens understand what goes on.

We agree, and if council is ready for the next step, TV could also be a great tool to help get citizens involved in their city government.

Live telecasts of the council meetings began in April after Antietam Cable, which has the same parent company as The Herald-Mail, paid $86,000 to install TV equipment and teach city employees how to use it.

Earlier this month, city officials answered questions phoned in by citizens, but said that the city government doesn't have the equipment needed to put callers' questions directly on the air.


Until that equipment is obtained, let us suggest another possibility.

Since the city government can broadcast live from the council chambers, why not encourage citizens to come in and ask their questions directly?

It might not be possible on a weekly basis, but once a month, citizens of Hagerstown could come before the council, ask their questions and have the answers broadcast to everyone who's watching.

Certain topics, like personnel and pending litigation, would have to be off-limits, as they are now. But other topics, like when street construction might finally be complete downtown, should be easy to answer.

Finally, only citizens of Hagerstown should be allowed to step up to the micropohone. Antietam Cable may have paid for the equipment, but the mayor and councilmembers are paid by city residents who elected them and no one else. Questioning the council on TV should be a perk reserved for city residents.

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