Concerns about the coronavirus and its ever-evolving variants prompted the Ceres City Council to last week decide to continue conducting meetings in-person and via Zoom.
Assembly Bill 361 allows the city to use a hybrid virtual meeting format.
Councilwoman Linda Ryno said while she believes there is more citizen involvement over the internet, she expressed concerns about technical problems impacting access to those who watch remotely.
“We need to be sure that if we are having any kind of technical difficulties that we need to stop the meeting,” said Ryno. She cited a Dec. 6 Planning Commission meeting where she, the Ceres Courier and others were not allowed to access the broadcast.
The Courier emailed the Planning Commission to report the problem and the meeting continued.
“The meeting should have stopped,” said Ryno, a comment that was echoed by Mayor Javier Lopez.
She suggested that if anyone reaches out to the city clerk during City Council meetings or the Planning Department secretary during the Planning Commission and cannot get into the Zoom conference, that the meeting is stopped and ascertain if anyone else on Zoom is having access issues then the meeting stops.
Ryno also suggested verbiage on the agenda to highlight how residents can report problems, such as emailing or calling staff.
City Attorney Tom Hallinan backed Ryno’s concerns, saying, “If our technology fails, then the meeting has to stop. That’s what the law says. Now if another person’s technology fails … there’s an option to address that.”
One option is to instruct a person how to phone in problems and phone in for audio feed.