Stories indexed with the term ‘CTN’

AAATA: Aug. 21 Meeting Location Change

The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board has announced that it will hold its Aug. 21, 2014 regular board meeting at the AAATA headquarters at 2700 South Industrial Highway. The typical meeting location is the downtown building of the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL). However, the library building is currently closed for an undetermined period as the main elevator is being repaired.

The start time for the Aug. 21 meeting, which will be held in the boardroom at AAATA headquarters, is 6:30 p.m. The AAATA facility is not equipped with built-in Community Television Network cameras as the AADL is. It’s not yet clear if AAATA will ask that a mobile CTN crew be dispatched to AAATA headquarters to record the … [Full Story]

A2: Video Stream Embedding Codes

The city of Ann Arbor has announced that embedding codes for online streams of Community Television Network (CTN) programming are now supplied with each stream of CitiTV programs and GovTV meetings. The embedding codes are available with a link near the bottom of the screen for specific programs: [screenshot] Inserting the codes into any third-party web page makes the video stream appear on that page. An example of this kind of implementation was part of a text streaming demonstration by The Chronicle last year.

Monthly Milestone: Watching Words

The Chronicle’s November milestone column comes to you a few days earlier than the customary second day of the month. That’s because I wanted to include a quick preview of a performance scheduled for Nov. 1 at the Kerrytown Concert House – by mezzo soprano Laurie Rubin.

Laurie Rubin, photo from press kit.

Laurie Rubin. (Photo from press kit.)

The Chronicle has rarely, if ever, written about entertainment. And as I explained to Laurie, when she called me up to make her pitch, our approach to covering Ann Arbor’s community doesn’t include standard “preview” pieces for live performances.

The boilerplate explanation I typically use on the phone includes a description of The Chronicle’s preferred strategy for giving readers advance notice of interesting performances. That strategy is an event listing that runs off Internet standards-compliant data feeds and helps to strengthen the community’s “calendar web.” So obviously the tactic here is partly designed to bore the caller to death, so that they’ll just give up and accept the fact that I’m not going to write a preview article about their performance.

You will find Laurie’s Nov. 1 Kerrytown Concert House performance included in The Chronicle’s event calendar, categorized as music.

Fortunately for you, dear readers, Laurie declined my gambit that she surrender to my boring, rambling talk about data feeds and technology platforms. Instead she expressed a weirdly geeked-out interest in these data feeds and calendars, which I probably seemed very excited about. She instantly grasped the concept of maintaining a calendar that automatically generates a data feed that any publication or individual can access. I didn’t figure that an opera singer would be such a receptive audience for that sort of thing. But at least she had stopped talking about her Nov. 1 performance at Kerrytown Concert House, so that was a good thing, from my point of view.

But in closing out the conversation, Laurie renewed her pitch for a preview article, based on her memoir, “Do You Dream in Color: Insights from a Girl Without Sight.” Even though I was still thinking to myself, “No preview articles! Not even for blind opera singers!” I figured Laurie might be a receptive audience for some additional conversation about a different topic.

That topic is an accessibility project for public meetings that The Chronicle has been working on somewhat sporadically. The idea is to provide digital streaming text for members of the deaf and hearing-impaired community to read – either live at public meetings or during a video replay. Yes, I fully understood that I was talking to a self-described “blind girl” – for whom this particular accessibility project offered zero obvious benefit. Yet Laurie turned out to be a willing conversation partner. And in The Chronicle’s basic technological approach, she saw a potential benefit to the blind and visually impaired community that would never have occurred to me. [Full Story]

Column: Video Replay Review for City Council

When the University of Michigan Wolverines play Big Ten opponents in football, the video record of some plays can be reviewed by game officials – under conditions set forth by the conference. One kind of reviewable play is the completion of a forward pass: Did that player actually receive the ball from the quarterback in a way that, under the rules of American football, constitutes a completed pass than can be carried forward on the field of play?

city council audio tape

Audio tape recording of the Feb. 17, 2009 Ann Arbor city council meeting – even though the Community Television Network video has gone missing, it's still possible to review what was said at the meeting. The Ann Arbor city clerk's office makes audio recordings of council meetings to ensure the accuracy of minutes. (Photo illustration by The Chronicle.)

For its proceedings, the Ann Arbor city council does not have a video replay rule.

But if it did, here’s the kind of play that might be reviewable: Did a city council-appointed board receive advice from the city’s financial quarterback in a way that, under ordinary rules of plain American English discourse, constitutes a recommendation that should be carried forward in a future board policy?

At issue is whether two seasons ago, back in February 2009, city of Ann Arbor CFO Tom Crawford recommended to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority that the DDA have a policy to maintain a minimum fund balance as a reserve, and specifically, whether a minimum reserve amount was specified.

The question was important over the last two years in the course of negotiations between the DDA and the city about the contract under which the DDA manages Ann Arbor’s public parking system.

The remarks made by Crawford – which everyone seems to recall (albeit differently) – took place in plain view on the public field of play, at the Feb. 17, 2009 city council meeting.

What made the public conversation remarkable in the waning stages of contract negotiations, was that it was based on what the different players (including Crawford) recalled Crawford saying. Why not just take an approach familiar to the Big Ten college football conference, and review the tape to find out exactly what Crawford said? [Full Story]

CTN: What’s The Vision for Local Television?

Editor’s note: In April 2011, The Chronicle sought to verify statements about Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority finances made by city staff at the Ann Arbor city council’s Feb. 17, 2009 meeting. We learned that the recording of the meeting was no longer available from Community Television Network (CTN), which is part of the city of Ann Arbor’s communications unit. The DVD of the meeting was missing and the online content had been deleted.

CTN Control Room

Chronicle file photo from September 2010 of the control room adjoining the CTN television studio, located on South Industrial Highway. On the screens are images from a local League of Women Voters city council candidate forum.

The Chronicle subsequently obtained an audio cassette recording of the Feb. 17 meeting made by the city clerk.

In relevant part, we report the contents of that city council cassette tape in a separate article. For this article, we take a view of CTN as an organization that’s broader than a missing DVD. But we still begin with a city council meeting.

In May 2009, former cable communications commissioner Paul Bancel addressed the city council during the time allotted for public commentary. He suggested that when councilmembers looked at the city budget, they’d see a $1.5 million allocation to community television. “It’s up to you to make it relevant,” he said.

Is it relevant? For 38 years, Community Television Network has served Ann Arbor. “There will always be cable providers or video providers,” said CTN manager Ralph Salmeron in a recent Chronicle interview.

But how does CTN fit within that media and communications landscape? [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Library Signs Digital Music Deal

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (April 25, 2011): At Monday’s meeting, AADL staff reported on a recent groundbreaking deal they’ve struck with the digital music publisher Magnatune, as part of a broader effort to provide more digital offerings to library patrons.

Nancy Kaplan

Nancy Kaplan, the newest Ann Arbor District Library board member, is introducing a proposal to videotape library board meetings for public broadcast. The board is expected to consider a resolution on that issue at its May 16 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

The deal – which is getting national attention from library professionals – gives patrons unlimited access to a downloadable catalog of about 12,000 tracks in a wide range of genres. Though it doesn’t include songs by popular artists on major record labels, AADL director Josie Parker told the board that the selection should appeal to a community like Ann Arbor, which values alternative music.

The library is looking for other ways to increase its digital offerings of audiobooks, films, music, and free or open eBooks. Possibilities include tapping collections like Project Gutenberg, which has about 50,000 titles, and working with local authors, musicians and filmmakers who might be interested in making their work accessible to library patrons.

Also at Monday’s meeting, board member Nancy Kaplan advocated for televising the board’s monthly meetings, and said she’d like to bring a formal proposal to the board for a vote on May 16. Other groups like the Ann Arbor Public Schools board and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority currently hold their meetings in the same location as the AADL board – the fourth floor conference room of the AADL’s downtown building on South Fifth Avenue. AAPS and AATA meetings are televised by Community Television Network. Parker agreed that there are benefits to televising the meetings, but cited issues of quality and control as reasons why they haven’t decided to do that yet.

In other business, board members got a preview of the 2011-12 budget, for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2011. They plan to keep the millage level unchanged – AADL levies 1.55 mills, not its maximum allowable 1.92 mills. There will be no layoffs, but no pay increases. The board will take a formal vote to approve the final budget at their May 16 meeting, which will also include a public hearing on the issue.

And in a discussion about the nonprofit Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library, Parker asked the board to consider putting a direct link to that organization’s website on the front page of the AADL website. The move would be “a pretty public vote of confidence for them, and recognition for everything they’ve done,” she said. The AADL had distanced itself from the Friends several years ago in the wake of financial oversight issues that have since been resolved. The group operates a used bookstore in the lower level of AADL’s downtown branch, with proceeds – $100,000 this year alone – benefiting the library. [Full Story]

AATA on Chelsea Bus: Cut Fares, Add Wifi

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (March 24, 2010): The transportation news out of this month’s AATA board meeting was that the twice-daily Chelsea-Ann Arbor express bus service will continue, despite low ridership. It will be moved in-house using AATA buses. The $125 monthly fare will be reduced to $99. Up to now, the pilot program has been operated by Indian Trails.

 Ted Annis public commentary AATA board

Ted Annis distributes copies of his treasurer's report during public commentary at the start of Wednesday's AATA board meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

A representative from Indian Trails addressed the board during public commentary at the start of the meeting, in part to convey disappointment, but primarily to thank board members for the opportunity to work on that private-public partnership.

Public commentary also included remarks from Ted Annis, the board’s treasurer, who signed up for a public comment slot, and used it to deliver his treasurer’s report. The report had not been given a slot on the agenda by the board’s governance committee – after reviewing it, the committee decided it did not fit the parameters of the treasurer’s report specified in the board’s bylaws.

The wrangling over the treasurer’s report thus continued from last month’s board meeting, when fellow board members expressed the view that Annis’ monthly reports, which he has submitted since taking over the treasurership last fall, do not include the material specified in their bylaws. Instead, they said, the reports are effectively the expression of an individual board member’s dissent on board policy.

The board voted to establish a bylaws committee to be chaired by David Nacht to examine the matter in more detail.

Board members also voted to change their meeting venue and day, starting in two months. In May, the board will begin meeting at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library on the third Thursday evening of the month at 6:30 p.m. The library board room location, also used by the Ann Arbor Public Schools and AADL for their board meetings, offers more space for attendees, as well as video recording facilities. [Full Story]

Indexed Video and the Open Meetings Act

Screen capture of video embedded in council agenda

Screen capture of item by item indexed video links embedded in council agenda.

Monday night’s meeting of the Ann Arbor city council was a test of stamina, with a public hearing and council deliberations on the A2D2 zoning ordinances pushing the meeting’s end time well past midnight.

The Chronicle’s meeting report will be presented in a separate article. [Spoiler: The A2D2 zoning ordinance was eventually passed – with an unaltered maximum building height limit of 150 feet in the D1 areas of South University.] In this piece, we highlight how readers who are interested in a blow-by-blow account of those deliberations will now more easily find the exact spot in the online video where those deliberations take place. [Video for the Nov. 16 meeting has not yet been uploaded.]

We then use the indexed video links to aid in our presentation of an uncorrected error in the Nov. 5 meeting minutes, which were accepted by the council last night – an error that in this case could amount to a violation of the Open Meetings Act. On a related issue, we use the embedded indexed video links to highlight an additional possible Open Meetings Act violation in the official noticing of a special meeting that immediately preceded the regular meeting of the city council on Nov. 5. [Full Story]

Column: What to Watch – Budget Work Session

At the May 4 city council meeting, amongst all the public commentary on Mack pool, the Leslie Science and Nature Center, the Ann Arbor Senior Center, Project Grow, the transportation plan, and the airport runway extension were some remarks about the Community Television Network.

In the context of the current budget discussions and the closing of the Ann Arbor News, Paul Bancel went to the podium and asked city council to think about ways to make CTN relevant. One concrete suggestion he had was to make sure some public bodies who do not currently meet in front of CTN cameras have their meetings recorded: Downtown Development Authority board (they’re working on it), the library board, and the public art commission. The board of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority could be added to the list.

But part of making community television relevant entails an understanding by the community of what it offers. If council has a role to play in making CTN relevant, then so does the community. [Full Story]

May 5 School Board Elections

During the last election cycle, The Chronicle spent several hours at the Community Television Network studios, watching debates among candidates for various local and state offices. Those debates were held by the League of Women Voters, which holds these events before every local election – and later this month, they’ll be focused on school board candidates for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

This year, the league is asking Chronicle readers to help come up with questions for the board candidates. [Full Story]

Ward 5 Candidates: Hohnke and Floyd

In a taping that was broadcast live from CTN studios Tuesday night, John Floyd and Carsten Hohnke, the two candidates for Ward 5 representative to city council in the November general election, answered questions posed by the League of Women Voters. In the pre-event visual checks, light banter between the candidates and the League raised the specter of more ominous signs than the one reading “Stop,” which indicated their speaking turn was over. [Full Story]

“Standby with the music in 5, 4, 3…”

CTN staffer Rob Cross worked the audio during Monday's League of Women Voters debates.

CTN staffer Rob Cross worked the audio during Monday's League of Women Voters debates.

For local election junkies, one of the most reliable ways to get your candidate fix is from the League of Women Voters debates, held before every local election and televised on Community Television Network. This year, The Chronicle took a behind-the-scenes look at the debates, spending Monday evening at CTN’s studios on South Industrial to see exactly what happens off camera. Though the league’s motto is “Because Democracy Isn’t A Spectator Sport,” for The Chronicle that night, it kinda was. (The complete debate schedule, including frequent rebroadcasts, is here. You can find a list of all local candidates for the November election on Washtenaw County’s website.) [Full Story]