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Baltimore County Council to consider live-stream of meetings

Vicki Almond, 67, is a Democrat from Reisterstown who is the Baltimore County Council chairwoman.
Vicki Almond, 67, is a Democrat from Reisterstown who is the Baltimore County Council chairwoman. (File)

The Baltimore County Council will consider a resolution Monday to urge more transparency in government, including live-streaming council meetings and work sessions.

Councilwoman Vicki Almond plans to introduce the resolution at Monday night's council meeting.

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"We want to be as transparent as we can, and I think it's one of the things people are very interested in," the Reisterstown Democrat said.

Almond's resolution, if approved, would not be binding. It would function largely as an official public statement of the council.

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Baltimore County has lagged behind other counties and cities in offering video of the council's public meetings.

Most other large jurisdictions live-stream their meetings online and archive them on their websites. Baltimore County does not. Council meetings are recorded and broadcast later on the county's cable television channel.

The council's work sessions, in which members discuss bills and hear public testimony, are not recorded at all. They're held Tuesday afternoons in a conference room in the Historic Courthouse in Towson, which seats only a few dozen people, making it difficult for some county residents to attend.

"That is where the work gets done before the council meeting," Almond said. "When I invite people to council meetings, they say: 'Is that all you do? Say yea and nay?' So they need to see the meat of it. They need to see what we're talking about."

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In order to record and stream the work sessions, Almond said, the council would need to move to the larger council chambers down the hall. The council chambers would be outfitted with automated cameras.

When Almond was chairwoman of the council last year, she had hoped to get the live-streaming underway by the end of the year.

The Baltimore Sun reported last year that Baltimore County was the only major jurisdiction in the Baltimore region not to live-stream council meetings.

Baltimore and Anne Arundel, Carroll and Howard counties broadcast their meetings live on both cable television and the Internet. Harford County streams council meetingslive online, but the cable broadcast is delayed.

Almond said she's looking at other ways to make county government more transparent and easier to understand. She's working on a bill that would modify the county's budget process to ensure that money is spent as intended.

The resolution being introduced Monday "is the beginning of moving that process forward and being more transparent," Almond said.

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