Cook County, Chicago look to make meetings accessible online
The Cook County Board and the Chicago City Council are creating a system that will enable the public to contribute to legislative deliberations via the internet.
The system will allow anyone to testify and comment on pending litigation, according to the Better Government Association (BGA). County Commissioner Larry Suffredin of Evanston is reportedly spearheading the proposal of the system known as "witness slipping."
“The purpose of the legislation is to encourage more Cook County residents to express their opinions on legislative matters before the Cook County Board," Suffredin said in a statement.
As a county government that is larger that 27 states and represents more than 5 million people, it is imperative that more residents get the opportunity to let their voices be heard regarding government matters, the BGA said. A system that allows those unable to attend meetings in person to contribute will likely result in more participation than has been seen in recent years, the BGA suggested.
“It’s vitally important that local governments in Illinois embrace technology as democracy moves into an increasingly digital era,” Josh Sharp, of the Illinois Press Association, said, according to the BGA. “Taxpayers who previously wrote letters or placed phone calls to their elected officials to voice their opinion about a particular measure will now have the ability to weigh in online. It’s a practice that works relatively well in Springfield and we welcome its swift approval in Cook County.”
County officials were researching the kind of technology that will be necessary to make a witness slipping program a reality.