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Bal Harbour Council meetings won’t be on television

Bal Harbour Council meetings won’t be on television
Special to The Miami Herald
Bal Harbour residents won’t be seeing Council meetings on television anytime soon.

Village officials had been looking into a plan to broadcast public meetings on Channel 77, which currently only airs announcements about Bal Harbour events.

But at a meeting last month, Council members shelved the idea, despite concerns from some members and residents that airing the meetings would make their local government more accountable.

At the May 19 meeting, resident Neil Alter suggested the Council should look into televising Bal Harbour meetings on Channel 77 available to villagers who subscribe to Atlantic Broadband cable.

”Broadcasting the meeting on the village channel I think would be highly educational, motivational and we could gain citizen participation,” Alter told the Council.

Officials already had been looking into the prospect.

Village Manager Alfred Treppeda had consulted with the governmental services company that tapes Surfside’s meetings, Calvin, Giordano & Associates Inc.

The village would have to buy equipment in addition to contracting with a production company.

Treppeda said the equipment would cost $26,000 for standard broadcasts and $57,000 for high definition and $350 per meeting for a person to operate the equipment.

Councilman Martin Packer agreed with Alter, saying that airing the meetings would benefit villagers.

”Education never hurts anyone,” he said. “There are many people who are in the village who cannot get out to the meetings.”

However, Assistant Mayor Joni Blachar said airing the meetings would cost the village a lot of money.

”I think it’s a poor idea,” Blachar said.

“First of all, it would extend the length of the meeting because people will come up just because they want to be on television.”

Packer said the Council should make an effort to be more transparent, noting public scrutiny following a series of contentious issues, including accusations that a former councilman did not live in the village.

”We have been accused of hiding things and not showing what the Council does,” Packer said. “The rest of my honored council members, I think, are being closed-minded.”

He later asked his colleagues to test airing the meetings for about two months, but he failed to get a second motion.

Mayor Jean Rosenfield said broadcasting meetings isn’t out of the picture.

”I think it’s an issue that I personally will investigate further,” she said.

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