Tuesday's Brainerd City Council meeting provided a perfect example of the benefit of televised meetings.
A northeast Brainerd citizen was watching the live broadcast in the comfort of her home and took exception to the remarks of one of the council members. Hearing none of the other council members respond to the comments and wanting to do more than just talk back to her television, she threw on a pair of jeans and sandals and went to city hall and addressed the council member personally during the council's public forum.
Now that's immediate participatory democracy in the television age.
The Baxter City Council is the latest governmental unit to grapple with the question of televising its meetings. It voted 3-1 against providing television access Tuesday, citing the estimated cost of $30,000.
There's no question $30,000 is a lot of money, but the Brainerd City Council was able to televise its meetings for a little less than that and there's no reason Baxter needs a system as elaborate as Brainerd's if it would prefer to handle it differently.
Critics of broadcasting the meetings are correct when they state young families are busy these days, but many of these same people do like to keep tabs on what's going in their city.
This paper has been a longtime supporter of televising public meetings. We urged the Brainerd City Council to do it and we've advocated that the Crow Wing County Board and Brainerd School Board televise their meetings, but our records don't show that we've ever urged the Baxter City Council to do so.
Now that the subject's been brought up though, it seems like a pretty good idea. Maybe a less expensive broadcast can be arranged so Baxter citizens can follow their council on TV.
A strike was averted but not much else has changed for the Twins
Minnesota baseball fans were happy that Major League Baseball averted a strike but state politicians hardly did cartwheels at the prospect of revisiting the Twins stadium issue next January.
Sen. Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, chief sponsor of the stadium legislation that passed this year, said last month's settlement was a short-term solution that would only slow down the bleeding in a bad situation. After years of trying, the Legislature finally passed a Twins Stadium bill that called for a relatively minimal amount of state funding. It was met with little or no enthusiasm by St. Paul, Minneapolis and the Twins organization -- all key players in a successful new stadium package.
Even Johnson said the Twins' stadium concerns would rank far behind balancing the state budget, funding education and bolstering transportation.
Last month's management-labor pact called for no contraction through the 2006 season, wealthier teams to share more of their revenues, a luxury "tax" for teams with a payroll of more than $117 million and random testing for steroids starting in 2003 as a survey.
While Twins fans were jubilant their team will get a chance to show its stuff in the American League playoffs, the ballclub's future is still uncertain. After being pegged at the beginning of this season as a team that would be eliminated, they now have received a reprieve of sorts.
The Twins' situation is similar to the prisoner on death row whose execution is still scheduled but pushed back for four years.
All Minnesota baseball fans can do is root for their heroes this fall and dream of Commissioner Bud Selig handing the championship trophy to the team he was going to contract.
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