Council President Wants All Board Meetings Posted Online

By Kayla Moody

Published 06/18 2014 10:55PM

Updated 06/18 2014 11:05PM

The Evansville City Council President is calling for an ordinance to bring more transparency to city government, while the Mayor's Office says it has a better idea.
Councilman John Friend is proposing an ordinance that would require all city board meetings to be video taped and posted online, noting that many board meetings take place at "odd times" that make it "inconvenient for the public to attend."

"It stands the reason that if you go these boards that are spending countless dollars that the public should know exactly what's transpiring within them," said Friend.

This all started with the Evansville Redevelopment Commission's purchase of property located in the outskirts of downtown Evansville between Northwest 3rd and 4th Streets near the Lloyd Expressway. Friend says, despite having two liaisons to the Evansville Redevelopment Commission, the City Council was left in the dark about the deal.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke's Chief of Staff, Steve Schaefer, tells Eyewitness News the Mayor talked to Friend about the deal.

Friend emailed Ed Hafer, former president of the Evansville Redevelopment Commission, about the deal but says he never received a response. In contrast, Schaefer says Hafer tried calling Friend multiple times this week to answer his questions about the acquisition but never was able to get ahold of him.

Friend says he received emails suggesting the ERC purchased the property at a price well above the appraised value, but Hafer and the mayor's office are crying foul.

In a statement to Eyewitness News Hafer said, "The Redevelopment Commission received appraisals from two professional appraisers. The average of those two appraisals is $473,000 and the Commission paid $459,000 ($14,000 below appraised value). The properties have been on the city's list of property acquisitions which was approved by City Council and the Area Plan Commission some time ago (2008 or before)."

While Friend is proposing an ordinance that would require videos to be posted online, the Mayor's Office says it's already approached WNIN, the local PBS station, about a deal where they would record all city board meetings and post them online in full. The Mayor's Office tells us it plans to request funding for that project during budget talks later this year.

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