Lights and Mics

Dear Readers,
The council said the $500,000 auditorium renovations were a good example of how to use grant money, not city money, to do something – like renovate Flower Ave.
Maybe that wasn’t such a good example. Right after the Flower Avenue discussion, the council heard a proposal to spend an additional $99,700 on the auditorium. This would be to make improvements, replacements, and modifications to the cable-tv setup used to broadcast city council meetings.
Before you get TOO outraged, Dear Readers, note that the city budgeted $400,000 for cable equipment purchases this year. Still, it is hard not to be outraged by costs such as $9,000 to install new on/off switches with indicator lights on the coucilmembers’ microphones – even if it does include remote control from the cable-tv sound board.

Also stunning is the $32,600 for new lighting that doesn’t glare in councilmembers eyes. That last cost includes $2500 for a “demonstration” of the proposed new lighting system.
The council was indeed outraged when these prices were presented to them at their March 28 meeting, even though they had requested some of the changes. Terry Seamens quipped that he’d change the microphone buttons for $48.
Hollywood or Mayberry?
Mayor Williams seemed to think the microphones were adequate. Without indicator lights it might be hard to tell if they are on, but whenever someone speaks into a dead mic, he said, the rest of the council and the audience starts waving their arms and shouting at them.
Councilmember Dan Robinson said it was a problem if someone was munching in front of an open mic, drowning out the discussion. Your Gilbert is rueful that his ribbing of the council for FAINT munching sounds during ONE meeting might have given this impression. We are also in dismay that since they subdued the existing lighting they think the lights are too dark, making them “look bad.”
Good grief! This isn’t a Hollywood production. It’s a small town! The local city council is SUPPOSED to look bad, and munch in front of an open mike, and wave and shout when the mic is dead!
The council said they wanted to see more bids on those items.

Keeping Up

They did agree that the broadcasting/streaming system should be upgraded. As deputy city manager Suzanne Ludlow pointed out they city should keep up with new technologies. These days people are more likely to be watching on mobile devices than on cable tv, she said.
As it is now, the original signal is digital, is converted to analog, then converted back to digital for internet streaming. A new system would also make minute-taking easier, and would add voice-captioning.
In a straw vote they approved upgrading. This will increase payments to the company that provides the streaming service from $750 a month to $1260 a month, plus initial start-up charges.
Dan Robinson, noting the costs and the changing technology proposed that the council discuss “strategic goals” for the city tv station. In other words “is this necessary?”

– Gilbert

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

2 Comments on "Lights and Mics"

  1. Tom Gagliardo | April 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm |

    I’m either drinking too much or need to drink more. Are these vendors the ones who were debarred for selling the Pentagon $100 toilet seats?

  2. “Suzanne Ludlow pointed out they city should keep up with new technologies. These days people are more likely to be watching on mobile devices than on cable tv, she said”
    Does SL. or for that matter anybody on the Council, have any idea backed by data of how many people watch the sessions of the City Council? And on what kind of gizmo? Without that information, it seems that the whole deal is to be done for the sake of it.

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