Council meetings to be live online

By Hannibal Courier-Post
Posted: Apr. 7, 2020 9:25 am

HANNIBAL | For the second time in less than a week a Hannibal City Council meeting will be shown live online.

The Tuesday, April 7, council meeting was to have had the distinction of being the first to be presented as it happened from city hall. Instead, the historic inaugural meeting took place on April 1 during a special call council gathering.

Showing the city council meetings on YouTube is the city's way of conducting open meetings while adhering to social distancing guidelines which have been implemented. This new meeting method allows residents to view council meetings without entering city hall, which is now closed to the public out of concern over the potential spread of the coronavirus.

Although the meeting is shown live, residents can also watch a rerun of the meeting in its entirety after it occurs on the city of Hannibal's YouTube page.

Reviews of the initial internet meeting were positive, according to both city staff and the public.

“I personally feel it went very well. I watched it after the meeting so I could see firsthand how it looked and sounded to see if any changes would be necessary, such as camera placement, audio, etc.,” said City Clerk Angel Zerbonia. “I have received positive feedback personally from the public.”

During the April 1 meeting the public was given the opportunity to offer comments.

“I received a couple of calls prior to the meeting asking if someone could submit comments. It was my recommendation to submit an email which, in turn, I would provide to the mayor,” Zerbonia said.

Zerbonia added that since council meetings do not have a spot on the agenda for public comments, all normal procedures for those wishing to speak during a meeting still apply. Those desiring to make remarks must provide the clerk's office with a summary of the issue they wish to discuss with the council. Such a summary must be received prior to the agenda deadline for general issues of 4 p.m. on the Thursday prior to the next scheduled council meeting.

Because it was a special meeting on April 1, Zerbonia estimates that staff from the city and police department had just 24 hours to get the new system operational.

According to Zerbonia, a computer, monitor and sound mixer were the only equipment necessary to provide the internet feed. She estimated the city invested $1,200 to $1,300 to purchase the required equipment that was not already on hand.

Once the entrance restrictions are lifted at city hall the council will face a decision as to whether or not to continue the online feeds.

“I personally feel this is a good service to the community,” Zerbonia said. “It will ultimately be up to the council. However, there are no issues to continue providing the service.”

Don't look for other city meetings to be videoed in the near future.

“As this was a decision that had to be made quickly due to COVID-19, we have not had an opportunity to explore other city meetings,” Zerbonia said. “At this time city council being accessible to the community is our main priority. Most other meetings will continue to be rescheduled until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.”

While the April 1 city council meeting took place in council chambers at city hall, and the April 7 meeting is also slated to occur in the same location, the city is prepared in the event the council could not meet in city hall. During its March 17 meeting the council gave emergency reading to a bill that authorizes the staging of city council meetings via electronic devices should council chambers be deemed unusable because of a virus or some other reason.

While the April 1 council meeting was the first to be shown live online, it was not the first time a Hannibal City Council meeting has been shown in its entirety on the internet. Several years ago media class students and instructors from Hannibal High School regularly recorded council meetings and presented them at a later date on the internet.

The Tuesday, April 7, meeting of the Hannibal City Council will begin at 7 p.m.



In Case You Missed It

Douglass Community Services to resume meal program Wednesday
HANNIBAL | Douglass Community Services is resuming operations on Wednesday after temporarily closing due to a possible COVID-19 exposure.