These remarks were prepared for delivery to Galveston City Council:
Mayor Thomas and Members of City Council.
I am Jim Guidry, co-owner of Guidry News Service with my wife Lynda. We are currently headquartered in Galveston City Council District 3 at 1818 Church.
GuidryNews.com has been posting Streaming Video recordings of Galveston City Council meetings, which are accessible on any computer connected to the Internet, since December 18, at no cost to the City of Galveston.
We decided to provide this service because of the severe budget problems caused to the city by Hurricane Ike. You had budgeted for an elaborate system of live and archived streaming video of the city council meetings, but were forced to abandon that project this year, because of Ike. I hope that the city council will choose to provide the service in the FY 2010 Budget.
Lynda and I believe that it is important that the video be provided online so that Galveston residents who have been forced to live off the island until their properties are restored can follow your deliberations.
Also, residents who remain on the island have had budget problems themselves because of Hurricane Ike and many no longer subscribe to Comcast; and thus, cannot follow the city council meetings from their homes.
While many residents have expressed appreciation for this service, that has not been the case here at City Hall.
Here is a little background on this project.
Our first offer was to upload the video to GuidryNews.com at no cost to the City, if the City would provide an appropriate video file.
The City initially declined this offer because of the expense of converting the DVD recordings by Darrell John’s DLJ Productions. My webmaster said that he had software to accomplish this and we decided to move forward at our own cost.
Then we had a problem with timing. Darrell John said that he normally provides the DVDs to the City several days after the meeting, but said that he would accommodate us with speedier delivery if the city manager approved. We agreed to pay for "rush" delivery, which DLJ has been providing. It has been costing us from $75 to $125 per meeting, depending on the length of the meeting.
The DVD's of tonight's meeting will be converted to streaming video on Friday and we will have it posted Friday evening.
My reason for appearing before the city council this evening is two-fold.
I want to announce to the public watching on Channel 16 that this service is available at GuidryNews.com and they can tell their friends and neighbors who are living off the island or who do not have cable.
The second reason is to complain that the City of Galveston has refused to include an announcement of this service in the scroll on Channel 16 and also has refused to put a front page link to our free service on the City's website.
Alicia Cahill, the City's public information officer, first said that the agreement with Comcast would not permit such an announcement on Channel 16. Later she revised that to say it would violate city-adopted rules for use of the channel.
"The rules clearly state that advertising is prohibited," she said.
Well, this is not advertising. It is advising residents of Galveston about a service that is available.
The City also has refused to put a link to the Streaming Video on the front page of the City's website, presumably for the same reason.
Using that logic, the City could not advise evacuating residents to monitor KTRH Radio, which is now the city's official radio station, for emergency information during hurricanes.
This is one of those things that if it were not so serious, it would be silly.
Please review the current policy and add an announcement about the GuidryNews.com streaming video of city council meetings to the Channel 16 scroll and to the front page of the City's Website.
Thank you for your attention.
Listen to the actual presentation: RealPlayer MP3