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Online Debate Serves as an Example for Park City and Summit County Governments

On Wednesday Mountain Meister is holding an online debate about Mountain Accord. We are excited for the debate but perhaps more excited about the technological aspects. Holding an event online allows a broad audience to participate and the fact that it will likely be recorded will make it even easier for community members to participate. Perhaps more exciting, is that questions can be submitted beforehand via their website and social media and they will be answered during the meeting.

While we are looking forward to seeing how it works out, the simplicity of the idea leaves us wondering why our local governments aren’t doing this already. The Park City School Board is as close as we come to this concept. They record videos of each meeting and post them on their website within a few days. Park City and Summit County councils don’t even do this.

As for taking questions online, no local government organizations, that we are aware of, take questions online and then answer them during meetings.

This really is the future of transparency and serving citizens interests. Here is how it could work:

  • City Council, County Council, Park City Planning Commission, and Snyderville Basin Planning Commissions would be brodcasted via Youtube Live Events
  • Questions could be posted to the Summit County, Park City, or Park City School District websites. They could also be posted to Twitter or Facebook with special hashtags (i.e. #ParkCityCouncilQuestions).
  • As part of the Public Comment portion of each meeting, all questions (as long as they met certain guidelines) would be answered.

In today’s world, why do we have to drive to Coalville at 6PM to formally ask a question of our County Council? More importantly if you were really involved and had a lot of questions, you would be in Coalville at 6 PM on Wednesdays, at the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission on Tuesdays at 6 PM, at the Park City Planning Commission on Wednesday’s at 5:30 PM (yes two places at once), and the Park City City Council on Thursdays at 6 PM.

We do understand the apprehension involved with live meetings. We’ve filmed enough meetings to know that it changes the dynamic. We’ve also heard our public officials ask us “please do no put that online?” more than once. If the comment doesn’t serve the public interest, we kindly oblige. So, there is risk from our officials’ point of view. However, the good it does for our community far outweighs the small snafus that inevitably take place.

We often talk about wanting to bring technology to Park City. If you want to bring technology, you have to live technology. We have an opportunity here to not only implant technology into our DNA but serve our citizens interest in a much better way.

While we understand we are likely far away from this happening, there are no impediments that are stopping it. Going forward, if we hear from our officials “we haven’t really heard anything from the public on that.” We are no longer going to view that as the public’s acceptance, we going to view that as our government officials not taking the time to ask.


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