City Hall “Democrats” turn off livestream feed once again
Joe Motil

Joe Motil, former Columbus City Council candidate and longtime community activist who is circulating petitions to run for mayor in the 2023 May primary election states: “I attended [Monday, January 9) night’s Columbus City Council meeting to testify against an ordinance. I also supported my fellow advocates who spoke at the meeting about the numerous issues and failures by our city and the justice system regarding the murder of Sinzae Reed. My younger fellow citizens were exposed unexpectedly and rudely exposed to one particular element of the undemocratic rules and conduct of Columbus City Council meetings.

“Because two speakers representing the organizations J.U.S.T. and The Downtownerz signed up to testify during the public comments portion of the City Council meeting, City Council procedures call for an adjournment of the scheduled meeting. This results automatically in turning off the cameras and audio that live stream the meeting on YouTube and for those who have basic cable television.

Several of the groups’ supporters who were seated next to me had no idea what was going on. I had to explain the unacceptable news to them. Of course, they were surprised and angry. The City’s silence, actually, censured its concerned viewing citizens.”

Motil says that today’s Columbus Dispatch reported, “Activists were unhappy that the Council’s YouTube livestream was down during the segment of the meeting where they spoke before council, displaying a message that the meeting ‘Will resume shortly.’ The feed resumed after City Council moved on to other business.”

“City Council spokesperson Nya Hairston said members of the public speaking on non-agenda items aren't televised by the city under council rules. Typically, the public speaks at the end of the meeting, Hairston said, but on Monday the Council allowed the Reed group to be heard near the start of the night.” Motil declares that, “this small alteration to the usual rules cannot be considered some type of unusual and temporary consolation for the usual undemocratic procedures of City Council meetings.”    

Motil continues, “During my May 10, 2022 testimony before the City of Columbus Charter Review Commission, I stated, ‘City Hall Democrats are outright hypocrites while they complain about our Republican state legislature restricting women’s rights with abortion laws, don’t say gay bills, critical race theory and gerrymandering, yet city hall Democrats are doing the exact same thing by restricting citizens’ rights.’ City Council further restricts public input by only allowing citizens to speak on two agenda items at City Council meetings and then turns off the cameras during the public comment portion of their meetings so viewers cannot listen to any possible opposing viewpoints and criticism they may receive from citizens.”

Motil concludes, “Although it was a considerate gesture to allow for public comment to take place near the onset of last night’s meeting because of the urgency of the murder of a 13-year-old, it is inexcusable that the undemocratic rules of City Council ban the public from hearing the video of public speakers during the public comments portion of its regularly scheduled meetings.”