Tuesday, January 21, 2014

$1.6B Budget: Can SF DPH Afford to Skype Commission Meetings?

At today's San Francisco Health Commission meeting, used public comment time to address my recent post regarding how it's been seven years since I first approached the health department to televise commission meetings on SF Gov TV and the web.

You'll recall that DPH chief Barbara Garcia has no plans to bring full transparency to her agency that has a $1.6 billion budget. She and the commissioners opted not to delve into when they would take full advantage of technological advances making it so easy to get live streaming on the web and give taxpayers more tools to hold our public officials accountable.

Is there really no allocation for community engagement via tele-communication with taxpayers, out of such a large budget?

This video shows the small audience in attendance, the huge rays of sunlight streaming in through the large auditorium windows and Garcia and the commissioners listing to my testimony. As I spoke, a DPH-issued laptop was on the podium for later use with a PowerPoint presentation and I wondered why DPH can't just use the web came on the laptop and air the meetings via Skype or a live streaming service.

Before the meeting started, HIV positive and transgender health advocate commissioner Cecilia Chung, who is not advocating for televising meetings, suggested I go across the street to City Hall and address the Board of Supervisors at their weekly meetings in Room 250. I told her then and again during my comments that we need to see the Health Commission in that City Hall room or another one of the many equipped with cameras.

Sunshine is not only vital to the wellness of individuals, it is also a key component to cost-effective and life-extending public health care public policy. The SF DPH does us all a huge and unhealthy disservice refusing to televise and web-stream commission meetings. It's a point the commissioners will be hear repeating from me in 2014.

1 comment:

Simon Forbes said...

Aww they are really camera shy. Not sure it will be very exciting TV or make good ratings lol. Mind you such people sometimes make big decisions in private with no public accountability like stripping HIV prevention organisations in the UK of funding which is something they did recently here.