Friday, September 25, 2020

Marco City Council Enters Zoom World


Photos by Steve Stefanides | Councilors Zooming in for technology training.

There have been many changes in our lives, both personal and on the professional side of how we do our business since the Coronavirus crept across our nation’s landscape. Some of them have been quite difficult, while others have taken a little less adjustment.

Our children and home life may have been one of those areas which were impacted most visibly during this pandemic. School children on Marco were not brought back into the brick and mortar schools on the island when they were due to return after Spring Break in March of this last school year. Instead, the instructional portion of their education was done virtually through the wonders of the internet and programs such as Zoom or Skype.

Those changes also affected parents who were required to assist their homebound children in their efforts to finish the school year. With some adjustments and sacrifices, they were able to accommodate the needs and those challenges that came about during the last two and a half months of school.

The government has also been required to operate differently. Many employees have been required to work from home to limit their potential exposure to contamination. Seating at meetings have been limited, precautions have been taken such as temperatures taken at the entrance to meetings and spacing out seating have been introduced.

The city has also installed the necessary equipment to allow councilors and the committee and board members to participate via Zoom for their required meetings.

On August 12 and 13, councilors attended a Zoom technology meeting via computer to become familiar with the process. The Council is required to have four board members present in person within chambers to constitute a quorum to conduct any business. More than one is rarely absent, but should they not be able to attend in person they will be able to do so now via the Zoom technology.

One of the only differences being that they may not participate or vote in matters that are of a Quasi-Judicial nature. All other matters such as Resolutions and Ordinance debates they would be able to participate and vote on.

“It is a bit of a learning curve for us, but many members of the council have utilized similar technology, so we don’t think it will take much to have this up and running smoothly. We just have to maintain a good sense of humor as we go along,” said Council Chairman Erik Brechnitz, smiling broadly. 

The general public, whether they are sitting in the council chambers or at home, watching on TV or on the live internet feed, will observe nothing different in the activities of the council. When and if a councilor attending by Zoom utilizes that technology to participate, the public, councilors and staff will hear or see that person over the public screens in chambers or at home as the meeting is being broadcast.

“We are really making every effort to keep our citizens aware of what is happening within city government, while also taking into consideration the safety of the public,” said Casey Lucius the Administrative Assistant to City Manager Michael McNees.

Meetings are broadcast over Comcast Channels 93 or 98, Summit Broadband broadcasts over 97 or 98, and CenturyLink over Channel 93. You may also view live broadcasts by accessing the city’s website at www.cityofmarcoisland.com, click on the box Marco Island TV, and follow the instructions. Should you miss a meeting and wish to go back and view it, you can do so by once again accessing Marco Island TV and following the previous instructions.

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