When Michael Mut addressed the Miami Lakes Town Council in June, he did not speak from behind a lectern at the meeting.
He was far from it, actually. Mut was standing outside of his house on Alamanda Avenue.
As part of the town’s recent initiative to allow video recorded comments, Mut was the first to participate in the council’s monthly meeting remotely.
He decided to give the video submissions a try when he realized that he had to take his son to football practice the night of the meeting.
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“I had this prior engagement and understood that no one had used this system yet,” said Mut, 42. “I thought I could demonstrate how easy it was.”
Mut, who has been a resident for eight years, wanted to speak to council members about the need for additional traffic calming devices on his street. He used his phone to record cars speeding down the road before turning the phone camera back to himself to videotape his message.
“From there, it was just a matter for posting it to YouTube and I submitted the link to the town clerk,” said Mut. “It was very simple.”
His video, which was played on a flat-screen television at the June meeting, was the first of its kind in Miami-Dade County.
Councilman Manny Cid proposed the idea as a means to involve more residents in the meetings.
“We have 30,000 residents and on average we have 10 or 15 [who] show up to a council meeting,” Cid said.
Cid says the video comment system will benefit those who do not have the time or transportation to attend the meetings.
His initial proposal would have allowed for live video participation, but the idea was nixed by council members in favor of pre-screened submissions. Residents can send the YouTube link to the town clerk as Mut did, or they may email the video directly.
“I think this really is a game-changer overall,” said Cid. “Folks talk about government transparency and accessibility. I think we have done something special here.”