Residents who can’t attend Devine City Council meetings in person will soon be able to watch them live online after the Council voted unanimously at the September 21 meeting to move forward with resuming livestreams.
“I get comments on my Facebook page all the time, and PMs (private messages) and texts, why aren’t we livestreaming or at least have the videos on our web page,” District 5 Councilwoman Debbie Randall said. “We’re filming them. Why are we not either livestreaming [or] putting it on the web page?”
Council meetings were initially livestreamed in early 2020, in the early days of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Several more meetings were also livestreamed in early 2021.
District 3 Councilman David Espinosa said that residents aren’t always able to attend meetings and spoke in favor of making Council meetings more accessible to the general public.
“It’s a good thing if they can just tune in,” Espinosa said.
District 2 Councilwoman Angela Pichardo said the size of Devine’s population makes it exempt from legal requirements to livestream, but agreed that the City should do it.
“I have seen it in other cities where they can go back and review, where people that are not able to attend meetings an option to be able to [get] updates and see what is happening at the meeting,” Pichardo said. “That way they can make adiscernment and make informed decisions.”
Pichardo offered the recently approved fiscal year 2021-2022 tax rate as an example, noting that some residents didn’t realize that the tax rate remained static and that increased tax bills were because of higher property valuations.
“When we have misinformation, or information out there that is inaccurate, it spreads like wildfire,” Pichardo said. “And so that way, I think that [livestreaming] just protects the City, and then the public is informed immediately as to what is happening in meetings.”
Devine resident and former Council candidate Kevin Stephens addressed Council and spoke in favor of livestreaming meetings.
“For those citizens that are interested in knowing what’s going on and want to be involved, this is a key element to be able to do that,” Stephens said.
Council briefly discussed other area cities that livestream and/or archive videos of their Council meetings, with Mayor Cory Thompson pointing out that Castroville’s City Council meetings are posted to that city’s YouTube page, and Randall adding that Pleasanton’s City Council meetings are also available online.
“If we’re going to do it, we’ve got to do it right,” District 1 Councilman Rufino “Flipper” Vega said. “So people can see everybody good and hear everybody good. No delays and all this other stuff.”
Thompson said that Lytle also posts their City Council meetings on YouTube and recommended that City Administrator John Vidaurri reach out to Lytle for information about their process.
A Pichardo-Randall motion to approve livestreaming Council and have Vidaurri reach out to Lytle passed 5-0 with the support of Espinosa, Vega, and District 4 Councilwoman Kathy Lawler.
A recording of the Sept. 21 meeting, as well as the meetings that were previous livestreamed, are archived on the City website at cityofdevine.org/live-council-meetings.
The next Regular Council meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday, October 19.
By Marly Davis