Live, from Chicago, it's the City Council
September 27, 2007
By: Fran Spielman
Chicago has come a long way since the days when television cameras were not allowed to broadcast or record City Council meetings. In those days, it took an order from then-Finance Committee Chairman Tom Keane, introduced at each meeting, to let the cameras roll.
Fast forward more than three decades. After years of talk, City Council meetings will finally be televised live on the Internet, starting today.
Welcome to the 21st Century.
"I've got to check with my makeup artist," joked Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th).
"Speeches are probably gonna get about fifteen minutes longer. [Ald. Edward] Burke's history lessons will probably ramble on for hours," said Rules Committee Chairman Richard Mell (33rd).
3 CAMERAS FIXED ON SPEAKER
Ever since the city was wired for cable, there's been talk of televising Council meetings.
An ordinance authorizing the live streaming video on the Internet was approved by the City Council in January 2004.
It never happened, largely because of a heated debate about where to position the cameras.
Some aldermen complained that cameras free to pan the Council floor could paint an unflattering portrait of inattentive aldermen, aldermen who arrive fashionably late, wheel and deal on the Council floor or doze off during long-winded speeches.
"For guys like me who walk around a little bit, talk to people and do head-counts, my constituents might not see me in my chair all the time," O'Connor said.
To placate aldermen, cameras were installed at a cost of $100,000 in three locations. Each will be fixed on the speaker. No panning the floor for reaction shots from aldermen while colleagues are speaking. No shots of the audience. "It's not gonna be like it's on television. It's gonna be a very stilted version of what goes on in the City Council," O'Connor said.
The live video will be available on two Web sites: www.chicityclerk.com and www.committeeonfinance.org.
Copyright 2007 Chicago Sun-Times. All rights reserved.