The Greensboro City Council has discovered a new way to appear to be open and transparent while being the opposite.

At the Tuesday, May 9 work session in the Plaza Level Conference Room, the City Council finally got a camera upgrade, but for the first one hour and 12 minutes of the meeting there was no sound.

At the work session on Thursday, April 27, four city councilmembers attempted to participate via Zoom and discovered what those who had been watching the video of the work sessions for months already knew. Because of the lack of individual microphones and the wide angle shot from the one camera, it was impossible much of the time determine who was speaking. Much of the time to those watching the meeting it really didn’t matter who was speaking because you couldn’t understand what was being said. The multidirectional microphone or microphones picked up the side conversations as well as the speaker, and at times the side conversations drowned out the speaker.

Because of the difficulty councilmembers were having participating remotely, the council asked what it would cost for the needed upgrades. At that meeting it was reported that a new camera for the Plaza Level Meeting Room would cost about $5,000.  In the world of the City Council, $5,000 is not even considered pocket change.

The new camera makes a huge difference in the video.  For the May 9 meeting, the camera zoomed in on the speaker and it is possible to see the speakers’ gestures and even their expressions.  Being able to see expressions and gestures are crucial for that meeting since those watching from home can’t hear what it being said for the first hour of the meeting.

The sound is available on the City of Greensboro YouTube site at . But on that site you get the sound and the graphics of the presentation.  The City Council can be seen in a tiny corner of the screen, but once again there is the problem of determining who is speaking.

With all the drawbacks, it turned out that the old system with limited video and poor sound quality was much better than the new system with far superior video and no sound.