A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

That’s supposed to be a public meeting?

Written February 4th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

This is a screenshot from the virtual meeting of the Albany Planning Commission on February 1. It may give you an idea how hard it was to follow this ostensibly “public” meeting of a local governing body during this Terrible Time of Covid.

Seven or eight members of the planning commission were taking part in this meeting, the main part of which was an important public hearing concerning an apartment development (“The Banks”) on the Willamette River. But the public could see only three of them — and recognize them only if they happened to know them by sight.

The screen at that time of the meeting showed only the applicant’s representative, two members of the commission in their homes or offices, and the chairman in a group shot from City Hall.

Like members of the public tuning in, the other commissioners were identified by the GoToMeeting app only by their initials. One or more of them were represented as a generic and anonymous “CO,” whatever that stands for.

Citizens watching this meeting could not tell whether the invisible commission members were paying attention. Were they even there, or had they perhaps wandered off to the kitchen to grab a bite?

Virtual or remote meetings online are necessary because of the governor’s edict banning ordinary public sessions. But there ought to be ground rules on how they are conducted so they at least resemble the public meetings they are supposed to replace.

The ground rules should include that public officials be identified on the screen, and that they turn their cameras on. (hh)

It was only toward the end of the meeting that three more commissioners activated their cameras.



Posted in: Uncategorized

6 responses to “That’s supposed to be a public meeting?”

  1. Ted says:

    Open Meetings…… Ah yes. Lies, damned lies and Albany Planning Commission lies. I thoroughly hate commissions. Everybody takes the credit if they somehow make a good decision and nobody takes the blame/heat then they make a bad one.

  2. Don Bishoff says:

    Sic ’em, Hasso!

  3. Anon says:

    I can’t find the Governors edict banning ordinary public sessions.

  4. hj.anony1 says:

    I heard republicQons were imploding.

    So there is that. LOL

  5. Son of Jacob Jacobson says:

    Must See TV

  6. Son of Jacob Jacobson says:

    Given the grievance-driven populace prevalent in Linn County, and the level of disgust for the Planning Commission seen here, it strikes me that a commissioner wishing not to show their face while in their own home is a wise decision. If you sit on any of Albany’s commissions, your address is included in the Public Record. Easy pickings for anyone with an axe to grind. Listen to what the commission says and then compare it to their actions. The premise of this column seems designed more to assuage the base than to shed real light.


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