I applauded Supervisor Sweeton for responding to COVID-19 health and safety concerns by live streaming Warwick Town Board meetings this spring. Nothing attests to leadership’s commitment to public safety and participation more than providing real time, open access to town board meetings via live streaming.
I’m disappointed that live streaming of these meetings has been discontinued and is no longer a priority, according to Supervisor Sweeton. Live streaming provides an opportunity to remote viewers, equal to those attending in person, to present public comments on issues of concern during “privilege of the floor.” This is the essence of accountability in democracy and an indispensible feature of public meetings.
Many residents continue quarantining as COVID-19 cases increase and the tragedy of 200,000 deaths grips our nation. Many others are unable to attend board meetings in person for other reasons, but would welcome the chance to participate online. Cancelling the streaming option is tone deaf at a moment when local leaders should be securing broader public access through technology.
Nationwide, students, teachers and labor are adapting to remote learning and work. Studies show that upwards of 25% of our workforce will continue telecommuting, post-pandemic. Society will increasingly rely on virtual connectivity in all aspects of learning, work, and governance.
Now’s the time for Supervisor Sweeton, to follow the nation into a virtual future by permanently reinstating live streaming of meetings in the interests of wider engagement with the very citizens whose votes empowered him as our representative.