Friday, October 9, 2009

Gov't On TV: The Good And The Fuzzy

We tuned in this week to HoCo's new streaming coverage of council and school board meetings and found the implementation very cool. It's like TiVo for Gov TV: You can skip ahead to an agenda item that looks interesting and skip all the boring stuff.

The council site even posts relevant documents beside the video, so you can read up on what people are talking about as they testify.

Still, it is not always clear what is going on. Take, for instance, this item:

Resolution No. 81 –2009

Introduced by: The Chairperson at the request of the County Executive

A RESOLUTION endorsing the provision of financing by the State Department of Business and Economic Development for an economic development project in Howard County; designating the Howard County Economic Development Authority as the agency to administer the project; and certifying that the project is consistent with the County’s plan for economic development.

We can report from watching the video that the council voted unanimously for the resolution with no discussion. Can anyone tell what we just endorsed financing for?

But then we watched video from an earlier public hearing where we learned that the county was kicking in $500,000 to be matched by $500,000 from the state to create a $1 million revolving loan fund to help start-up businesses. The tax-exempt financing generally would carry a five-year term, according to Dick Story, the chief executive of the county's Economic Development Authority.

So far, Story told the council, the county has "talked to companies but has not made a loan" and wanted to build up the kitty to $1 million so the program could be self-replenishing.

From this, we learned an important lesson: You can never watch enough TV.

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