September 25, 2003
Beginning of the Road
By Dane Sorensen
I was curious to see the big news for Ely this last week was the big ticket expenditure by the City of Ely to put in a high tech video surveillance system at our ugly little Recycling Center. Soon on a TV somewhere your every action will be watched and recorded for posterity. Presumably, if you accidentally mix glass with plastic you will be served up in living color to our City Attorney's office.
My big question to the City Father's is why stop there? It would not take much to go the additional step and put this surveillance system on the Internet. We already have Sheridan and Central on the Internet. Just type in http://www.elyminnesota.com/cams/csp/index.asp and you will instantly be able to watch all the jaywalkers we have. Why not add to it the recycling center? We can show the world that we are doing our bit to save the planet. Not only that, but maybe the recycling workers will work a little faster. For appearance sake, I would suggest the city get rid of the stuffed chair they have for the employees to sit in. Employees should never be sitting on the job.
Having the Recycling Center on the Internet could solve another big problem we have. Here we are taxing every Ely Cable Subscriber to the tune of about $25,000 a year for public access programming and no one wants to produce any programs. So hour after hour we see static where there should be top notch local programming.
It has not crossed the City Father's mind that both the viewers and anyone with spare time has decided that public access is a joke and a waste of time. They think public access is something new and exciting. I find it as exciting as watching paint dry.
You see, I have been to the big city of Minneapolis and watched public access on their huge cable system. Minneapolis is so exciting they have more than one channel. It is filled with endless programs produced by the ignored victims of the American system. Most of the programs show some activists sitting on folding chairs next to a plastic plant complaining that Minneapolis really does need a center for left handed Hispanics in every neighborhood. However, even Minneapolis is lacking enough whining talking heads to fill up all the air time so they pad it with important programming made by some grade school class singing about how they love Mother Earth. I am sure our Recycling cam would be just as interesting.
With our city in the red I don't understand why they don't realize they are putting this cam system in the wrong place. We don't need to watch our little garbage center, we need to watch the garbage going on in City Hall. A permanent 24/7 web cam in the council chamber wired to the Internet and Cable System would be far more interesting and allow those who love drying paint to keep an eye out for government waste. Maybe then we could avoid mistakes such as the moving of the ice rink into the Industrial Park.
I find it very interesting that with the exception of a few previous players in the game of free tax dollars the city has not attracted any new businesses to Ely. I have seen more growth in the privately owned industrial park on the east end of Ely than I have in the city's Industrial Park. Now in an effort to fill it up we are going to move the rink there. I wonder if the City Father's understand that Industrial Parks are meant for businesses and not children?
Furthermore, just as sure as the city had to keep changing the Trezona trail we will end up having to move the rink out of the Industrial Park because a business probably will come along and ask for that space. Why are we going to waste all this money to put the rink where it probably will not be able to stay?
So in the name of efficient government, let's take the $25,000 we have for public access TV and put web cams up that are aimed at what the public really should be watching: namely our "ship of fools" city council. So whether you are watching Cable TV or surfing the Internet you too can watch how your tax dollars are spent ….poorly.