Omaha City Council wants the virtual public statements option to continue on an ongoing basis
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Omaha City Councilor Pete Festersen is pushing for a permanent change in the way citizens participate in city council meetings.
Since the pandemic hit the Omaha subway in March, Zoom meetings have become a part of everyday life for many. Since then, it has quickly become a safe way of giving members of the community access to local government, and it’s legal under an executive order issued by the governor during the pandemic.
Festersen wants it to continue even after the health crisis has ended.
“I think it should be adopted and used as much as possible to enable citizens to participate in local government,” said Festersen.
He said that if the public can comment on the agenda through Zoom, there will be more people the opportunity to participate in issues within the community.
City council meetings take place on Tuesday afternoons when most people are working.
“Regardless of whether there is a pandemic or not, citizens would have access to the local government to testify via Zoom and have virtual access. And it will allow more transparency and access to local government, ”said Festersen.
The Council will vote at its meeting on Tuesday.
Festersen said he believes community members will endorse the use of technology in government when it passes.
“I think people are used to using things like Zoom in government, business, and education now – and it’s free. I think it has these advantages. As long as we offer it to people and it will improve access, ”he said.
Festersen said he is also pushing for state legislation that would allow this type of transparency at all local government meetings, including city government meetings and Douglas County Board of Commissioners meetings.
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