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Online conferences are the new normal

Getting personal means logging in

By JOSH RESNEK

With a great deal of positive interest, the city government has welcomed the new normal – public meetings held online, away from the crowds that often jam city hall.

Meetings of the city council, the school committee, and a number of the city’s boards have already held online meetings on the online conferencer Zoom.

While we at the newspaper aren’t privy to the city’s numbers, that is, those counted as watching meetings online, the administration has said in its online reporting that attendance has been strong.

This indicates that many people in the city are following the epidemic and the city government on their computers – young and old alike, men and women, teenagers and young adults.

In fact, the city has been running itself pretty much with its online Facebook sites and online infomationals and press releases by an array of staff.

From all accounts, this is an effective antidote to the virus which has succeeded in closing everything down having to do with the public’s right to know.

Are public meetings better online or are they better in the flesh, inside the council chamber at city hall, or inside the Keverian Board Room or in the library where the school committee has been meeting at Everett High School?

Some don’t trust public meetings.

Votes can be hidden away or deleted from recordings.

If the public isn’t present in the flesh, how does the public question public officials.

Watching a Zoom city council meeting isn’t exact- ly like being there inside the city council chamber.

How does resident get to yell at a public official, or to complain passionately?

Not by watching a meeting on Zoom.

Taking human contact away from public meetings is the same as using the internet to make your deposit instead of going to a bank drive-up or visiting with a teller at a bank branch.

Banks have used electronic/internet advances to do away with employees wherever possible.

Cities, states and corporations are all doing the same – relying on the internet to do away with as many employees as possible and as many offices that serve no real purpose when employees can work at home on their computers.

That’s why commercial office space will go through a pricing and vacancy decline in the present economic environment.

The shutdown, the virus and the Internet have changed how we lead our business lives.

The nation is trying now to get back open economically.

The glee many of us feel watching a Zoom council hearing or a school committee meeting will be short- lived.

When the cuts arrive, we will all be able to point a finger at our public officials.

We will have to do this quietly, watching Zoom.

There really won’t be a need for a city hall in the years to come.

That’s the new normal. It’s time has come.

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