Ste. Genevieve Aldermen Hold Teleconference For Public Hearings, Ordinances

Ste. Genevieve city officials took part in a Board of Aldermen meeting using Bluetooth and smartphones last Thursday. The only ones attending in person were, from left: city attorney Mark Bishop, Mayor Paul Hassler, city clerk Pam Meyer and city administrator Martin Toma. (Photo by MARK EVANS/Herald staff)

While the Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen was able to take care of the business on tap last Thursday night via Bluetooth communication on smartphones, any other virtual meetings likely will have a different format.
The board had voted March 6 to suspend public meetings until May, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
A special meeting was called for last Thursday to hold three public hearings and to pass ordinances dealing with city employees during the pandemic.
Mayor Paul Hassler, city administrator Martin Toma, city clerk Pam Meyer and city attorney Mark Bishop were the only ones attending the meeting at City Hall in person.
The results were mixed, with two members losing connections during the meeting and one missing the bulk of the meeting because of it.
“This is a marginal success,” Toma said at the close of the 40-minute meeting. “It meets the test of our public meeting [requirements], but I’m not real happy with the dynamics of it.”
He asked how the board wanted to proceed.
“If we need them, we’ll do the same thing,” Ward 4 Alderman Joe Prince suggested. “If we don’t need them, we won’t do anything.”
Bishop said it could have been “a little more organized.” He said he thought it had been “sufficient,” but suggested that a video conference might be better.
“You can see everybody, which adds some dynamics,” Bishop said. “You can also, you’ll have icons to mute yourself. So that I can see who’s muted and who’s not. So it’s a lot easier as the meeting progresses, you can see somebody pop off the mute button and expect them to say something.”
With the speaker phone method employed Thursday, Bishop said, “If you all talk at once, you don’t hear anybody.”
He said a video conference would be “a little more organized.”
Toma said in order to do that, everyone would need a suitable computer at home and a service like zoom.com or gotomeeting.com could be used. Apps for those are also available for smartphones.

See complete story in the April 1 edition of the Herald.