Editorial: Rehoboth leads way in meeting technology
When it comes to open government, protecting the public’s right to know and protecting the public’s constitutional rights, Rehoboth officials recently hit a bumpy road.
The Attorney General’s Office has found two different committees established by city officials were improperly meeting in private; those committees will now meet in public going forward. The Attorney General’s Office also found improper a meeting involving both city and county officials, discussing the future of the city’s ocean outfall.
Then there was the public events ordinance, written by the police department, that drew so much opposition from residents, neighbors and civil rights groups it has been withdrawn for further review. Yet despite these missteps, it must be said that Rehoboth officials are leading the way when it comes to implementing the use of technology to make their meetings, documents and decisions easily accessible to the public.
A public meeting in January was so well attended it required two overflow rooms, but technicians were on hand to ensure that residents in all areas could see and hear each speaker.
That meeting and subsequent meetings have been briefly interrupted for technical adjustments to ensure the system is working properly for everyone. That includes technology to project whatever documents are referred to during meetings onto screens, enabling those in the audience to follow the discussion.
Beyond that, meetings are not only live-streamed; they can also be accessed online as soon as the meetings are over, avoiding days of delays as the public waits for an audio recording to be posted. The investments that produced these changes may have been long overdue, but they demonstrate Rehoboth officials have made significant improvements in the interest of transparency and public accessibility.
These improvements demonstrate that Rehoboth officials are keenly aware of the high level of interest taken by Rehoboth residents when it comes to civic affairs. Going forward, city officials must build on their leadership in technology and work with residents to nurture the beautiful, welcoming, resilient Rehoboth known everywhere as the nation’s summer capital.