Commissioner Mark Cashman

Commissioner Mark Cashman

The Rhea County Commission has turned down a proposal to begin live-streaming its meetings.

Commissioner Mark Cashman, who himself was a proponent of live-streaming the sessions during his campaign for the 9th Circuit seat, made the motion to start live-streaming with a second from Billy Thedford.

After the request was made, Commissioner Emily Fugate, who served on the committee examining the live-streaming proposal along with Commissioners Thedford and Cashman, said she really would like more information on the matter.

Commissioner Cashman said: “I was approached by a citizen and asked what I thought about the Commission meetings being broadcast live. I feel today like I did then. I firmly believe that transparency is what our county’s citizens deserve and expect. In the same conversation it was mentioned that the current district commission had just approved internet expansion throughout the district. What an opportunity this would be for citizens to use this extension of internet services to live stream their government in action.”

commissioner Cashman said he spoke to representatives from surrounding counties who were using the live streaming. “They didn’t hesitate to respond as it was about live streaming. It was about transparency, transparency, transparency.”

added that Bradley County Mayor’s Chief of Staff Adam Lewis told him there had been a huge drop in open record requests and that the reduction was a direct result of their live streaming.

“It is time to continue live streaming this body doing the peoples work in a way that would be in the best interests of our citizens,” concluded Commissioner Cashman.

Discussing the matter, Commissioner Emmaly Fisher said: “It would be a good idea to get information on how many people are actually going to see this before we start. We need to contact two or three other counties to see their usage stats. I want to get as much information about it as possible before I vote on it.”

Chairman Jim Reed called for a vote on the issue. Commissioners Cashman, Phillip Dunn and Thedford voted in favor of the measure, while Commissioners Tommy Ballard, Jim Reed, Leo Stephenson and Nick Welch voted no. The two Commissioners Fisher and Sandy Francisco passed the vote.

Commissioner Francisco added on her death: “I would really like to see more information on the cost and use of live streaming.”

Commission chairman Jim Reed told the audience that the motion had failed.

The commissioners passed a resolution to declare the Rhea County Justice Center jail a workhouse. This will allow the Justice Center to receive a larger grant from the state to house convicted state prisoners.

Commissioner Jim Reed

Commissioner Jim Reed

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