OLD Borough On The Record

A discussion of open and efficient government

Listen to the minutes – audio recordings

Summary:  I want to encourage every municipality to post the audio recordings of their public meetings on their web site the day after the respective meeting.  

Listen to meeting minutes

Municipal entities (e.g, your Mayor and Council) often create audio recordings of their public meetings.  While making an audio recording IS NOT required by the NJ Open Public Meetings Act, once the recording is made, it immediately becomes a government record – and is available upon request by the public.  Unlike written minutes, audio recordings are not subject to the approval of their respective public body before being made available to the public.

If the public body would post these recordings on their web site, the public could have fast and easy access to the deliberations and decisions of their local officials.  However, none of our local municipalities post their audio recordings.  Actually, I don’t know of any municipality that posts their audio recordings.

This then requires that the public make an OPRA request – delaying access to this important information – while wasting the efforts of the municipal staff with each request.

Audio recording

I’d like to suggest another medium to follow the activities of your public representatives – the audio recording.

Listen to the audio recording of the November 1, 2016 Allendale Mayor and Council Special Meeting where they approved the purchase of 220/230 W Crescent Ave.

To get this recording, I had to submit an OPRA request to the Allendale Records Custodian, then wait several days for a response.  Despite my request for the file in the popular MP3 audio format, it was provided via email in the outdated WMA Windows Media Audio format.   WMA audio files do not work on an iPhone or most Apple devices.

Think about it.  Each time some requests this file the above process must be repeated.  All because the municipality won’t public the file to their web site.

So, is it difficult to post the recording to a web site or an on-line shared folder?  The answer – not at all!

After I received the file, I converted the file to the popular MP3 format – and posted this file to my Dropbox account – and here it is.  No waiting, no expense, no big deal.  Maybe 10 to 15 minutes to process and share.  Best of all, once the file is available NO MORE OPRA requests need to be submitted or processed.

Find below two versions of the audio file – the first is the original – the second has Noise Reduction (NR) software applied to reduce background noise.

Let’s BE EPIC

This article higlights how most municipalities take a simple and efficient process of providing a government record to the public – and instead creates a procedural nightmare for the public and staff.  Remedying this nightmare is easy – but never done.

Encourage your municipality to post these recordings to their web site – save money, save time.  Why not be state of the art?  It’s really quite easy.  Why not BE EPIC?

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