At Monday’s meeting of the city council, Sharla Gardner cued up a pro-library YouTube video for her fellow councilors.Â She had just offered an amendment that could have boosted the city’s maximum allowableÂ levy by $525,000 — a sum that would make it possible to restore regular hours at the library, which has been operating on an abbreviated schedule due to recent budget constraints. A minute or two later, the video was stopped cold by council president Jeff Anderson, so the objections of councilors Todd Fedora and Jay Fosle could be heard. It was then that the words began to fly.
First off,Â it may be instructive to view the video that started the ruckus. All apologies to Gloria Gaynor.
A clearly miffed and flabbergasted Todd Fedora lit into Gardner.
“This is something I’ve never seen before — playing a YouTube video for a city council meeting,” he said disdainfully.
In his objection, Fedora said the music video did nothing to further council discussion of the matter at hand. He also faulted the production for being one-sided, although I doubt he would have found the video any more acceptable had tax concerns been worked into the chorus.
Fedora sarcastically suggested that if future council meetings were going to become a venue for YouTube fare, his Internet-savvy children could provide the body with plenty of “real interesting” viewing.
Gardner responded, saying that the video was presented “in good humor.”
“I thought it would make councilors and the public smile a little bit,” she said.
In defense of the video, Gardner also said it outlined many of the valuable services libraries provide to children and the community at large.
“I think we sometimes need to lighten up a little,” she said.
Nevertheless, Gardner agreed it was unnecessary to continue watching the video if other councilors found it objectionable.
Rather than let the meeting devolve into bickering over the video, Council President Anderson suggested the council stick to discussing the maximum levy and take up the issue of how and when videos should be used in council chambers at a future meeting.
“This is one of those growing pains, as we begin to use more technology as councilors,” said Anderson, reflecting on the video incident after the meeting.
Anderson said that while a video might be appropriate to show at a committee-of-the-whole meeting or an agenda session, he was not sure they had a place in regular city council proceedings.
“As council president, I’ve Â done my best to make sure people can’t pick on us for being out of line and crazy or our meetings looking like some kind of a circus,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re conducting the people’s business in an efficient and respectful manner.”
Back to the issue of the levy and Gardner’s proposal the maximum be increased to extend library hours…
Her motion failed by a 5-4 vote.
But Gardner said she was still glad she had brought the issue forward.
She suggested the idea might not be dead, saying: “Perhaps this is something we can bring forward as a referendum item.”
I personally would be glad to pay an extra $12 per year to get local libraries back to their regular hours. What do you think?