As per Council’s request, Turlock City Council Members are now able to once again attend City Council meetings via teleconferencing in the event they cannot attend in person.
Council voted 4-1 on the item at Tuesday night’s Council Meeting, with Vice Mayor Amy Bublak opposed to the idea as she felt it hinders absolute participation.
“I think it’s really difficult to be listening on the other end,” Vice Mayor Bublak said. “You’re kind of behind depending on how far away you are, and so you don’t interject when you should. I’m not comfortable with it.”
Bublak used teleconferencing to attend a Council Meeting on April 14, 2009 when she phoned in from the Fairfield Inn and Suites hotel lobby in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
On April 28, 2009, the City Council approved a resolution with a 3-1 vote which discourages the use of teleconferencing by imposing discretionary requirements that were more restrictive in nature than the general provisions afforded under the Ralph M. Brown Act. Councilwoman Amy Bublak and then Councilmen Ted Howze and Kurt Spycher voted in favor of the resolution. Mayor Lazar opposed and Councilwoman Mary Jackson was not in attendance with the reason of just having twins weeks prior.
Since early 2009, Council has followed teleconferencing requirements that were more restrictive than those demanded by the Brown Act.
By rescinding the previous resolution and amending the policy for teleconferencing at City Council Meetings, Council Members will still be following the requirements under the Brown Act.
Members will need to ensure if they are in a remote location that it is connected to the main location by telephone and/or video, the area must be ADA accessible, and a notice of the meeting must be posted.
Teleconferencing is not a common practice by Council Members, but is a good option available in the event they cannot be present.
“The council hasn’t abused this privilege,” said Mayor John Lazar. “It’s allowed by law so it’s welcome to come back to us as an option.”