Hey, Wait a Minute | Is Bloomington’s annual budget process like slaughtering chickens?

Note: “Hey, Wait a Minute” is an occasional B Square Beacon series that highlights meeting minutes and other documentation of local government meetings in the Bloomington, Indiana area.

The Bloomington city council’s information packet for its Oct. 7 meeting includes some meeting minutes with dates from 2011.

A failed amendment to Bloomington’s chicken keeping ordinance as recorded in the meeting minutes of Dec. 21, 2011. The amendment that was eventually approved struck outright the prohibition against slaughtering a chicken.

Why are the meeting minutes from nine years ago just now in front of the city council for approval? That’s an interesting story, too. More on that later.

Maybe a little more interesting is the range of topics reflected in those 2011 meeting minutes.

Slaughtering chickens.

Approval of the 2012 budget.

And more.

On Dec. 21 of that year, the council eliminated a prohibition in city code against the slaughter of a chicken by someone who has a permit to keep a chicken flock under the city’s ordinance.

During the same meeting, an earlier version of the code amendment failed. That version would have added the stipulation that the killing of any chickens be accomplished in a humane manner and that the event be kept out of public view. Continue reading “Hey, Wait a Minute | Is Bloomington’s annual budget process like slaughtering chickens?”

Hey, Wait a Minute | The art of putting CATS on YouTube by yourself

Note: “Hey, Wait a Minute” is an occasional B Square Beacon series that highlights meeting minutes and other documentation of local government meetings in the Bloomington, Indiana area.

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Screenshot of YouTube version of Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019 Bloomington’s city council budget hearings. Link to time point in video: [200:38]

A couple of weeks ago, I described the automatically generated YouTube transcripts of Bloomington city council meeting videos as providing “a fantastically easy way to search through a video to find the exact spot you want to watch.” And I’ll say it again: It’s great that CATS (Community Access Television Services) is now uploading videos of regular city council sessions to YouTube.

But why would you ever want to watch some specific part of a city council meeting?

Maybe you’d like to hear exactly what a councilmember said about a particular topic with your own ears. What, for example, did Isabel Piedmont-Smith actually say about funding for the arts during the city council budget hearings? Continue reading “Hey, Wait a Minute | The art of putting CATS on YouTube by yourself”

Hey, Wait a Minute | YouTube says Bloomington councilmember Allison Chopra is right: Four hours is way too long for a city council meeting

Note: “Hey, Wait a Minute” is an occasional B Square Beacon series that highlights meeting minutes and other documentation of local government meetings in the Bloomington, Indiana area.

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Bloomington’s city council meetings are now available on YouTube. That’s a good thing.

But I want more.

I think every local government body in Bloomington should take steps to have the video of their meetings posted on YouTube.

Why?

It’s not because YouTube offers a gadget for making a hyperlink that starts a video at a specific spot. CATS offers a gadget, too. And the syntax is the same—just add &t=N at the end of the URL, where N is the number of seconds from the start of the video.

Meeting videos should be uploaded to YouTube, because YouTube offers an automatic transcription service. YouTube’s automatic service offers two giant benefits: (1) a transcript that can be copy-pasted from YouTube to the text-processing software of your choice; (2) closed captions superimposed on the video itself. Continue reading “Hey, Wait a Minute | YouTube says Bloomington councilmember Allison Chopra is right: Four hours is way too long for a city council meeting”

Hey, Wait a Minute |”I’m leaving this meeting at 10:30, regardless of how long it goes…”

Note: “Hey Wait a Minute” is an occasional B Square Beacon series that highlights meeting minutes and other documentation of local government meetings in the Bloomington, Indiana area.

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“…it’s 9:45 p.m. I am leaving this meeting at 10:30, regardless of how long it goes, because I need to sleep at night. … There is absolutely no reason why we should be having a meeting that lasts more than four hours …”

At the most recent meeting of Bloomington’s city council, on July 31, councilmember Allison Chopra offered some candid commentary on the length of the meeting.

Chopra said in part: “…it’s 9:45 p.m. I am leaving this meeting at 10:30, regardless of how long it goes, because I need to sleep at night. … There is absolutely no reason why we should be having a meeting that lasts more than four hours …”

The criticism that councilmember Chopra expressed at the meeting—of her colleagues and herself—was serious business. I think it’s worth watching Chopra’s remarks as she made them, in their entirety.

But how likely are you to click on a link to a four-hour meeting video? I’d guess the answer is: Not at all likely, because you are not a local-government nerd. Continue reading “Hey, Wait a Minute |”I’m leaving this meeting at 10:30, regardless of how long it goes…””

Hey, Wait a Minute | Is Bloomington in southern Indiana?

Note: “Hey Wait a Minute” is an occasional B Square Beacon series that highlights meeting minutes and other documentation of local government group meetings in the Bloomington, Indiana area. Sometimes, arriving at the connection to meeting minutes takes a long walk around the block.

The online world is a mostly a peaceful place where people share facts and thank each other for the useful information. But yesterday someone was wrong on the internet. So a mild fracas broke out.

Here’s the kerfuffle-inducing question: Is Bloomington considered southern Indiana? (Yes.) Continue reading “Hey, Wait a Minute | Is Bloomington in southern Indiana?”