The COVID-19 pandemic has driven our local public bodies to find ways to hold public meetings while complying with health orders and directives to avoid public gatherings and maintain a six foot physical distance. In the last two weeks our writers have participated in meetings by Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Facebook live.
We have continued our tradition of broadcasting County Commission meetings on our Facebook page. At the request of the county’s planning staff we broadcast our first County Planning Commission meeting live on our Facebook page last week.
Our County Commission, planning commission, city councils, and other public entities in Tooele County should be commended for their efforts to keep public meetings public while health orders and directives ask that the public stay home.
Some public bodies were broadcasting meetings prior to the pandemic. Perhaps, when the pandemic is over more public bodies will continue to broadcast their meetings.
Our first Facebook live broadcast of a County Commission meeting after the pandemic has reached 10,849 people with 1,481 engagements. Last week’s broadcast of the County Planning Commission meeting — even with sound problems — reached 2,074 people with 311 engagements. That’s more people than either body has seen in a regular public meeting.
We agree with the state Legislature’s declaration of policy in the state’s Open and Public Meeting Act; “It is the intent of the Legislature that the state, its agencies, and its political subdivisions take their actions openly and conduct their deliberations openly.” Maybe one thing we can gain from this pandemic, with no disregard for the pain and suffering, is more people watching their government in action.