Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Live Streaming Bureaucracy

Obviously trying to cash in on this whole "Internet" thing, Allegheny County has, as of tonight, begun to post live streaming video of its County Council meetings. Now, you too can watch the thrills of Council Meetings from the safety and comfort of your couch, bed, or, in my case, toilet.*

So if you've ever wanted to see the first reading of "An Ordinance of the County of Allegheny, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, amending and supplementing the Allegheny County Code of Ordinances, Division 2, entitled "County Government Operations," by adding a new Section 230-6, entitled "Backup 911 Call Center," requiring the continuous maintenance of a live backup 911 call center that can be rendered fully functional within minutes of a significant or catastrophic failure at the County's primary 911 call center," but just haven't been able to get into town, well, you are in luck now, friend. ("Luck", of course, is a relative term.)

Unless you're like me and Windows MediaPlayer crashes for you like a nearsighted drunk baby behind the wheel of a Kia Optima.**

Actually, I'm of mixed feelings on this whole eGovernment thingee:

By publicly posting and broadcasting this kind of information (as well as meeting minutes and agendas) the elected officials can be brought to task for the stupid things they say and do at public meetings, which would otherwise only be available to those of the public and press corps that bothered to show up and stay awake. I'm actually in favor of online posting of all public meetings in the City and County Governments from Zoning Board of Adjustments hearings through Sports and Exhibition Authority Meetings to City and County Council Meetings. This is mostly because I think I've thoroughly exhausted YouTube's Collection of drunk Orson Welles outtakes, but also partially because I like to know and have access to this type of information.

I'm also nebby.

I also have begun to loathe paper, but that's a discussion for later.

On the other hand, it does bring up the whole Grandstanding Asshole Politician who-doesn't-understand-this-thing-called YouTube Phenomena. [I'm looking at you George Allen!] I can see the gaffes of some of our local dunderheads being repeated ad nauseum around the world and I can see some of our local dunderheads actually trying to cause a ruckus in the hopes of making eBaum's World. I don't really want Pittsburgh to be the Big Brother of Government.

And yes, I recognize the head shattering incongruity of that last sentence.

For now, however, despite the best efforts of the City and County Information Systems departments, I think the llama song is safe from competition from regional eGovernment.

*Which is, let's be fair here, an apropos place for this kind of thing.
** Hint! Hint! Per I. Madsen.

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