It’s good to see the waning of the pandemic hasn’t stymied the work of local municipalities and boards to offer an easy way for people to watch meetings virtually.
The City of Cody now has a clear new system that broadcasts a live feed not just to TVs but to the website for people to watch digitally. Park County, with commissioners now back to their regular meeting space, has a similar system.
We see this development as a necessary step, COVID-19 or not, to make government more accessible to anyone who wants to watch it.
However, it’s important to also allow people to go in-person, now that vaccines have lessened the threat of COVID-19.
Open meetings, as with public notices, are a key feature of a thriving democracy. People need to be able to see firsthand if they want to what is going on in local governments and to be able to trust them.
What the pandemic has done to spur on alternative methods of watching is a fantastic step in the right direction, and a change that should be seen as worth making permanent.
There’s no reason every meeting of elected officials constituting a quorum, and thus capable of making decisions, shouldn’t be easily available for everyone who wants to watch.
If that’s a midday Park County Commissioners’ meeting, they can tune in from the computer on break at work. If it’s a 7 p.m. Cody City Council meeting on a snowy night, it could be watching a good quality video on TV. If it’s a 5th District Court hearing, you could stream it on a device.
And for those who’d rather walk in and sit down at the meeting itself, it’s great to see almost all of our local institutions again allowing unfettered access in-person as well.