Monday, December 12, 2022 — Item 10D on the Red Wing City Council agenda:

10D. Consider Motion to Extend Virtual Meetings

The City Council provided direction on continuing future meetings in person and virtual at the November 28 City Council meeting. Staff received some feedback regarding this proposal change. Staff have provided a report to outline the issues to consider, and ask for formal action on whether to extend virtual meetings in 2023.


I had to leave early, did make a comment about Resolution No. 7799, Rules of Order and Procedures for the City Council, and because I had to leave, I sent a missive about 10D via email before the meeting, and again in chat early in the meeting, urging CONTINUATION of virtual meetings. The Council did vote YES, 6-1.


BUT, and it’s a BIG BUT, turns out “my” Ward 2 City Councilor voted no, and said some pretty absurd things in opposition to continuation of virtual meetings, statements really dissing the public, rather than welcoming their/our participation. So of course, I fired off an email after reviewing the meeting video:

All –

A hearty thanks for extending use of virtual meetings which makes City government more accessible for Red Wing residents.

I was most disturbed to hear “my” Ward 2 rep speaking against webcasting meetings and then voting against it. This is one of the instances where it’d be good to canvas the Ward, because a NO! vote sure isn’t representing my interests or the interests of many Ward 2 residents.  “If somebody’s living locally here, I don’t see any reason why they can’t be here like the rest of us.”  Really? “For those who like to speak to the Council, I don’t think it’s a problem for them to be here, if they’re local.” EH? WHAT? You ran for office and were elected to represent us, that’s your charge. Your job is to be there, and not be resentful about it. Our job as residents and citizens is let you know what we think, our priorities, to raise and support and pooh-pooh and object to new and old ideas, to weigh in on budget priorities, and to make sure that you’re representing us. That’s your job, to be there. Your vote to take away this cost effective means of participating in city government is against the public interest.

Way back during the Citizens Assembly, a primary focus was how to make City meetings “better,” and by that, more welcoming and accessible, to INCREASE public participation.  THIS IS 2022!  Virtual meetings are one obvious way, the technology is here, the expertise is here and training is available for those unfamiliar or afraid, and best of all, virtual meetings can be accomplished at nominal cost.

The option of participating from home makes it possible for me to weigh in (though I usually make sure get comments around via email prior to the meeting, because it’s good practice with better reception to get word out in advance). Mr. Kliewer, you’d asked last week how I find the time to do what I do… it’s not easy, and my workday extends beyond 12 hours/day most days, which is why I love virtual meetings. I can appear before the Public Utilities Commission while sitting in my camp chair at Rice Lake State Park, I can file pleadings at FERC from a hotel in Duluth or Lake Dardanelle State Park, and draft comments from my office in my hybird when camp hosting at Myre-Big Island in between client visits:

… or from my Wawona 6 vestibule at Split Rock Creek on the way to Craters of the Moon:

Sure there are glitches, issues. So what! This is not a command performance at Carnegie Hall. For 3-4 years, I ran live air mix for the 9-Oscar show with 3-5 set changes over the 3 hours show. I was sound tech for benefits; bar and concert sound (5 part monitor mix for Sweet Honey in the Rock!); and I spent a week on the White Earth Reservation producing and broadcasting the 7th International Treaty Conference live out of a huge tent, getting blasted off the air by lightning one afternoon, and we were back on air faster than my ear recovered. Live broadcast is real!  We can survive the issues. The benefits far outweigh the problems.

I heard the objections due to the steep technical learning curve, and if there is another Council President for 2023, I’d encourage the city to devote some staff time to train so it’ll be more glitch free and less intimidating for whoever is at the gavel.

THANK YOU FOR CONTINUING VIRTUAL MEETINGS! Yes, I’m SHOUTING! This is the best and biggest step toward better meetings that the City could take.


From Citizens Assembly final report:

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