Can’t make City of Coral Gables Commission Meetings Tuesdays at 9am? Coral Gables will soon be allowing the public to virtually appear before them from anywhere in the world with the use of WebEx. The idea came from Commissioner Jorge Fors, Jr. after seeing how beneficial it’s been for neighboring city, Miami Lakes.
WebEx can be used from computers or smartphones by downloading a simple and free app. With the use of a webcam or smartphone front facing camera, the public would virtually appear before the commission live on a TV screen inside the chambers at City Hall.
“This is all about access. More access for more residents. It’s also about making our government easier to access with the idea of encouraging residents to use that access. As a commission, the more we hear from the residents, the better we can do our job. But not everyone is able to attend our commission meetings to voice their ideas or concerns, whether due to personal commitments or disabilities. Now anyone with a webcam can virtually appear at our commission meetings and speak from home or the office.” said Fors.
Elected officials campaign on making government more open and transparent and this tool would do just that. As Coral Gables’ population becomes younger and more diverse, working families that want to be engaged will now have an opportunity to voice their feedback on public hearing items.
The item passed 4-1 with Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli opposed. The mayor has also voted against having commission meetings after 5pm. Valdes-Fauli wants people to appear in-person to allow for dialog and cross examination however WebEx would provide the opportunity to do just that.
The City Clerk’s office has a January 2020 target for implementing this new technology.