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Thread: Live streaming Lancaster Town Board Meetings

  1. #1
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    Live streaming Lancaster Town Board Meetings

    An open letter to the Lancaster Town Board


    Supervisor Ruffino,

    Yesterday I received an email link from a Lancaster resident requesting I watch a YouTube live video presentation of the Village of Depew board meeting held Monday, September 13, 2021. (https://youtu.be/TyOJ_RaXBeU). The sender asked what I am now asking you, “Why not Lancaster”?

    The video is clear, the sound is excellent. A far superior broadcast recording than the meeting audio recording now provided by the town. I suggest the town investigate how Lancaster can provide its residents with like service. YouTube is providing this service for numerous government entities and private organizations as well.

    In addition, I was impressed with the meeting content regarding town business communication to the public and the open exchange with residents / Trustees at the public comment session. Not once did I hear, “We are here to listen to your comments, we don’t have to respond.”

    We are in mid-September and construction of the new dog shelter has not started. Status report, please.

    While Depew residents and the board spoke on American Rescue Plan funds and what they can be used for, and how to utilize them in the Village. I don’t remember hearing what Lancaster is receiving from the rescue plan or any plans on its use. I look forward to you reporting on this at the next meeting.

    Too often there are few board or committee reports given by board members informing the public of town business. I don’t need to hear of a fundraiser or a barbeque chicken dinner.

    What is the status of replacing the recently hired ‘Accountant’ who resigned and never served a day? Will the position be posted if filled?

    The Town has not received a town audit final opinion from Drescher & Malecki. Reason?

    Residents too often have had to pull information from the town board. Information that should openly be provided by the board. We have been promised transparency and openness.

  2. #2
    Member mark blazejewski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post

    The video is clear, the sound is excellent. A far superior broadcast recording than the meeting audio recording now provided by the town. I suggest the town investigate how Lancaster can provide its residents with like service. YouTube is providing this service for numerous government entities and private organizations as well.
    Lee,

    Your idea is a superb one which I fully support. As I see it, live coverage of Lancaster Town Council sessions in 2021 would be the local equivalent of the 1979 advent of C-SPAN coverage of Congressional proceedings.

    As I understand things from what I consider to be a credible source, YouTube live coverage/archiving is done this way:

    There are two separate streams, live and YouTube.

    When live streaming is linked to YouTube, the coverage is simultaneous and live. By linking to YouTube, the live stream is then recorded and preserved on YouTube.

    Also, unlike live streaming on FB, YouTube provides closed-captioning and subtitles.

    The number of cameras used depends on to what extent the organization wants to "pan" the entire setting.

    I think I got that right.
    Last edited by mark blazejewski; September 15th, 2021 at 07:54 AM.
    Of Mike Wozniak: "He has the same ideology as Ron (Ruffino) wanted, Giza said."

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    Board stands divided on using funds to restore Fireman’s Park
    September 16, 2021
    by MARIA PERICOZZI Lancaster Bee Editor


    Multiple residents, past mayors and past fire chiefs attended Monday’s Village of Depew meeting to ask the board to come together and restore Fireman’s Park.

    A public hearing in late August led to a divided board, unsure of whether to use American Rescue Plan funds to restore the Gould Avenue Fireman’s Park pavilion and restrooms as phase one of the restoration project. A resolution to approve the use of the funds for the park was tabled after trustees suggested exploring other uses for the funds.

    This project has been more than 10 years in the making as various administrations attempted to get the ball rolling and find funding.

    Mayor Kevin Peterson and deputy mayor Erica Stempniak started working on this project in 2019.

    Former mayor Steve Hoffman said he used the park a lot when he moved to Depew in 1964. “If you were going to Fireman’s Park as a kid, you were going somewhere, it was an event to look forward to,” he said. “We’d ride our bikes from the top of the hill down to Fireman’s Park.” Hoffman said the current state of the facilities is deplorable. “If we sent the building inspector through, he’d probably put a demolish order on it,” Hoffman said. “You have uneven concrete in the facility. The bathrooms reek. I wouldn’t put my kids or grandkids in there, or expect anyone else to use it.”

    Firefighter Robert Brotz Sr., who was recognized Saturday for his 60 years of service with Depew Fire Department, said he was there in 1961 when the park was built. Carnivals used to be held in the summer at the park. “Times have changed, and I think the park should change to match the people and the kids that go there,” Brotz said.

    Hoffman said it is a shame that there is board opposition on this project. “We have a golden gem in the Village of Depew named Fireman’s Park,” Hoffman said, adding that the board has a great chance to put their mark on a facility that will be used for years to come. “I implore you guys, please, put the money into it, let the residents enjoy it, and let’s move forward, and let’s try to all get along up here.”

    Peterson said the park is in desperate need of repairs. Due to the strict guidelines as to how the American Rescue Plan funds can be used, Stempniak said this is a great way to use the almost $766,000 funds. The second half of the funds, an additional $766,000, will be available next July.

    Once phase one is completed, the community can use the new pavilion space for private events and recreational activities all year, regardless of weather.

    The current state of the facilities does not allow for the fire department to host events at the park anymore, like they did 20 years ago.

    Phase two would include adding paved sidewalks, a bike path, new lighting and additional renovations to make the park ADA accessible. The second phase would include a grant opportunity, Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) with the funding of $350,000 and a 50% match for the village, bringing a total of $700,000 to work with.

    A rendering of the proposal was displayed at the Depew Summer Concert on Aug. 5, and many residents were told of the project and asked questions. Peterson said not one unfavorable response was heard.

    Monday’s heated discussion regarding the use of funds led to board members interrupting each other, and residents asking the board to work together as a team.
    Trustee Audrey Hamernik said she is not against the revitalization and much-needed improvements for the park. “Yes, I agree Fireman’s Park needs to be updated, but we first must look at the department needs, not wants, or if all money is spent and there is a shortfall, I do not want to raise taxes to balance the budget because we did not plan accordingly,” Hamernik said. “Our residents cannot withstand a tax increase.”

    Hamernik suggested that the funds could be used to increase the size of the dispatch center in the police department.
    “There are actually strict guidelines for what [American Rescue Plan funds] can be used for,” Stempniak said, adding that she will be looking into a different grant that can be used to specifically cover the police department needs.

    Due to the pandemic, many governments saw the increased use of parks, which is why the American Rescue Plan funds can be used for parks. In the past three to four years, Stempniak said they have seen an increase in the use of Fireman’s Park. “This park has been neglected for 30-plus years,” Stempniak said. “It’s sad that there’s no pathways for those that are not able-bodied to walk on. It’s sad that this is a representation of our village that people from neighboring towns come to see, and it’s sad that that is a representation of our fire department.”

    Stempniak said she uses the park almost daily, and the condition of the park pavilion is despicable. “Pushing a stroller is a pain in the butt,” Stempniak said, adding that visitors are unable to ride a bike through the park either. “God forbid you’re in a wheelchair or have a kid whose in a wheelchair that would like to enjoy the park, because that’s not possible either.”

    Trustee Jacqueline Kucewicz said the board did not meet to discuss the “million-dollar decision” of approving the funds to restore the park.

    Stempniak said the plan was shared with board members and she offered to meet with anybody, and she did not receive questions or issues regarding the plan.

    Peterson said there was time for questions during the two weeks after the board approved public hearing to be held regarding the funds. He said he did not receive questions from trustees Darrin Ziemba or Kucewicz, who are new to the board, during that time. In July, Peterson said Hamernik approved of the project, which is why she was asked to second the resolution to approve the use of the funding.

    Hamernik said Monday that she and the other trustees wanted to be communicated with and be involved in the planning.

    Hoffman said since he joined Depew as a police officer in 1981, he has seen numerous boards argue about decisions.

    “There’s always been bickering, and fighting, and projects get put on hold and not completed because of exactly what’s going on here right now,” Hoffman said. “You guys need to come together.”

    Assistant fire chief John Gauthier said the board fighting even though they want the same thing is unacceptable.
    “Swallow your pride, put your heads together and figure out what you have to do to make this village what it could be and what it should be,” Gauthier said.

    An excellent report on an excellent Village of Depew YouTube live-streamed video presentation:

    https://youtu.be/TyOJ_RaXBeU

  4. #4
    Member mark blazejewski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post
    An excellent report on an excellent Village of Depew YouTube live-streamed video presentation:

    https://youtu.be/TyOJ_RaXBeU
    For all of its divisions, the Depew Village Board does seem to be united in its pursuit of transparency.
    Of Mike Wozniak: "He has the same ideology as Ron (Ruffino) wanted, Giza said."

  5. #5
    Member Frank Lee Blunt's Avatar
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    I fully expect that this fall will bring enough change in the Town Board to force this type of improvement for the betterment of the voter's ability to make a more informed choice.

    Transparency starts with modern modes of communication being used properly to keep the facts about any issue the voters are concerned about are available and that their representatives are available live online.

    Ruffino and his administration are not the least interested in transparency of any kind. It allows them to keep being as GRIMEY as ever.
    Frank Lee Speaking....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Lee Blunt View Post
    I fully expect that this fall will bring enough change in the Town Board to force this type of improvement for the betterment of the voter's ability to make a more informed choice.

    Transparency starts with modern modes of communication being used properly to keep the facts about any issue the voters are concerned about are available and that their representatives are available live online.

    Ruffino and his administration are not the least interested in transparency of any kind. It allows them to keep being as GRIMEY as ever.

    It is my understanding that Supervisor Ruffino has requested his staff investigate the operation and cost of live streaming the town board meetings. I would like to see the work sessions held in the main chamber and video recorded as well.

    This would ensure that residents viewing the meeting would have the ability to make out what all speakers are saying. More importantly, what the board members are saying. Despite Supervisor encouraging everyone to use the microphones when speaking, Councilmembers Wozniak and Mazur mumbled through too many presentations.

    Residents addressing the board used the microphones and came across crystal clear in the recording.

    This is no longer rocket science or cost prohibitive. It is something that has been requested for years and rebuffed.

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