Saturday, July 03, 2010

Next step; world class legislative webcasting

OK, so the dust has finally settled; we have bare minimum webcasting of all the important meetings; floor sessions, committee meetings, and now finally, interim committee meetings.

It has taken years, literally, to drag recalcitrant politicos into the 21st century of deliberative decision making in the public interest. Yet even after all that time and all that effort, we are left with what amounts to only audio coverage. Although there is a camera in use (on the floor of the Senate), thanks to Senator John Sapian, link, it is placed so ineffectively as to be useless to stakeholders. Even if a speaker is included in the view of the stationary camera, they are so far away as to be unidentifiable, especially since we see only their backs.

The distance from where we are, to where we should be, with respect to legislative webcasting, is a technological and fiscal baby step.

But then, technology and funding have never really been the issue. The issue is the unwillingness of politicians and public servants to be held honestly accountable for their public service.

If you asked legislators who "settled" for half-assed webcasting, why?, they will tell you, "It was the best we could get; if we had pushed for more, we would have been left with nothing at all."

I will never be satisfied with that argument. I understand it;
I even agree with its pragmatism. I just don't buy it on a
philosophical level. Neither would Winston Churchill
who argued;
"In matters of principle, never give in, never, never, never."

What is, is. We are where we are. But now that "we could lose it all" is no longer part of the discourse, now that the door is irrevocably opened, it is time to open it all the way; robust webcasting to a searchable archive.

Only one question remains; will the reform be the first item on the next legislative agenda, or among the last? Will the next legislative session be another session in the dark, or will the light of day finally shine into every nook and cranny of the legislative process from the very beginning?

There are now only two reasons that legislators will obfuscate the passage of the final reform; their lack of courage, and/or their lack of character. They are either afraid of the consequences of shining light on their public service, or they support continuing to keep the people in the dark regarding the spending of their power and resources.

Thomas Paine wrote;

There is no stopping an idea whose time has come.
Robust webcasting to a searchable archive, is an idea whose time has come.

In the November election, the entire House of Representatives is up for (re)election.

Robust webcasting to a searchable archive is an issue of a magnitude that warrants inclusion in the discourse surrounding their election. It is a deal maker or breaker.

Any candidate who refuses to take a clear and unequivocal stand on the issue, can be reasonably suspected of standing against it. You pick a side when you don't pick a side.

When the question is;
Will you stand in support of robust webcasting to a searchable archive?

any answer except yes, means no.

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