RTD May Join the Ranks of Transit Agencies with Transparent Meetings

The RTD Executive Committee had a sometimes heated back-and-forth today about recording board meetings.
The RTD Executive Committee had a sometimes heated back-and-forth today about recording board meetings.

If a town like Littleton can do it, there’s no reason the Regional Transportation District can’t. That’s the message District H RTD Director Kent Bagley had for his colleagues today about recording and posting board meetings online in the name of transparency.

No one at the Executive Committee meeting held at RTD headquarters disagreed with the principle (all RTD meetings are public), but its urgency was up for debate. The organization is busy and strapped for cash, some board members said.

“I really do not want any extra burden for this office,” said Claudia Folska, whose district covers parts of Aurora and Centennial. Folska suggested RTD begin taping meetings next year, after the opening of four rail lines and the national search for a general manager is complete.

RTD is busy. Between the rail extensions, probable fare hikes, and the search to replace former General Manager Phil Washington, there’s a lot to be done — and a lot of public meetings that are not accessible to the people affected by those decisions.

“That’s all the more reason to have this done now,” Bagley said in response to Folska’s suggestion. “If not now, then when is it going to get done? We’re not talking about tremendous amounts of money.”

A memo estimates the total cost to record and post meetings to be just $35,000 annually. RTD’s total budget is $518 million. If the measure is approved, interim General Manager Dave Genoa said the money would come from a discretionary fund.

Putting public meetings online is a baseline standard in government transparency. Most municipalities, including Denver, record and broadcast many public meetings live before archiving them online for the public. RTD could take after its Seattle counterpart and do the same if it wants to get up to speed.

Board members will vote on the recording measure during the Board of Directors meeting Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m. at RTD headquarters.

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