Reaction to a dog barking in the background and a couple minor technical glitches couldn’t prevent a successful first foray into videoconferencing for the Batavia City Council on Monday night.
“I thought for the initial meeting, Council was a little less talkative than they normally would be, but other than that I thought everything went well,” said Council President Eugene Jankowski, about 14 hours after he presided over a Zoom videoconference that was shown on Facebook live and livestreamed on The Batavian.
Jankowski said that the board conducted a couple of trial runs on Zoom prior to the meeting. As it turned out, every Council member except for two was hooked up to video.
Early in the meeting, a comedic moment occurred when participants, viewers and listeners were distracted by the loud barking of a dog in the background. The owner, a Council member who will not be named in this account, let his feelings be known in harsh terms to quiet that dog down.
Other than that, Council Member John Canale lost his internet connection toward the end of the proceedings, but after a few minutes delay, he was back online and able to cast his votes on a pair of resolutions.
Jankowski said he and Lisa Casey, the City’s confidential secretary, had a plan in place for a situation such as that.
“If someone got kicked off, when we noticed it we would call (that person on the phone) and we will wait for you and try to get you back online,” Jankowski said. “I didn’t mind taking a minute or two recess and that’s exactly what happened. When someone got kicked off and it was noticed, we went into that plan and it took a few minutes longer, but we got him back online and he was able to cast his vote.”
Overall, Jankowski said he found it a bit difficult to make sure people didn’t talk over one another and that he missed the public input part of the meeting.
“Due to the circumstances, we just don’t have the room on the screen to have a lot of people get involved in the meeting,” he said. “We’re going to try to address that by emails and other ways, and hopefully this will only be a couple times and we’ll be back in person in a few weeks.”
At least one regular City Council observer agreed that the videoconference was effective.
“For a first time, it worked well,” said Batavian John Roach, in a comment on The Batavian.
The meeting also was shown on the Batavia News Service YouTube channel later last night and will be televised on Spectrum channel 1301 at 9 a.m. Wednesday and at 8 p.m. Friday.
City Council’s next meeting at 7 p.m. on April 27 has been set up as a Zoom videoconference.
In another development, Jankowski applauded a local business for offering to sew 200 to 250 masks for City employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“We’re supplying some of the materials to the local business and they are providing all the labor – free of charge, I guess,” Jankowski said. “They don’t want to be named right now; they are trying to do this anonymously.”
He said the homemade masks are more for others’ protection, “not necessarily the ones who are wearing them.”
“If you’re sick and you don’t know it, you’re not going to infect other people that you’re around … that’s what the governor is saying, anyway.”