TRURO — In the race to get Outer Cape towns’ regulatory board meetings online, Truro is in last place.
Gov. Charlie Baker issued an executive order on March 13 suspending some requirements of the Open Meeting Law as long as provisions to ensure public access to the deliberations of public bodies were made “through adequate, alternative means.”
As of Monday, Truro had yet to set up a way to view and participate in virtual meetings efficiently. Provincetown, Wellfleet, and Eastham all had such systems up and running since last week.
“If it seems like we are behind the curve,” said Town Manager Rae Ann Palmer, “it’s probably because we are.”
Truro has been holding regulatory meetings via telephone conference calls that are not open to the public. Residents can listen to the audio on the town website after the meeting is over.
The town experimented with the video conference platform GoToMeeting for the board of health meeting Friday, which was broadcast live on Truro cable Channel 18.
Only Truro residents with cable service have access to that channel.
Those who have questions during a meeting have been told to email them to Palmer.
A significant impediment to holding live online meetings, said Palmer, is broadband connectivity.
“There are many committee members who have limited access to the internet, not just select board members,” she said.
Stephanie Rein, a select board member who has said her home internet connection is poor, admitted she could solve the problem by driving to a public place with wi-fi.
“Would I conduct a select board meeting from my car in the library parking lot?” Rein said. “Yeah, I guess I would if I needed to.”
Provincetown, Wellfleet, and Eastham have all set up live broadcasts for regulatory meetings that people can view and participate in from anywhere via calling in or video chat.
Provincetown and Eastham are streaming their meetings live on their websites with a phone number viewers can call to ask questions.
Wellfleet is holding its meetings via Zoom video conference and allowing viewers to enter the conference and participate.
“We are missing a piece of equipment for our broadcast booth that will allow us to turn on live stream on our website,” said Palmer. “It is ordered, and we will get it set up as soon as it comes in.”
Palmer said the missing piece of equipment was “a TRMS live streamer server.” She would not allow a reporter to speak to the town’s technology manager for additional information.
“Truro has long had a no remote participation policy,” Palmer said. “We have a lot of residents who don’t have the internet at their home, and the select board thought it wasn’t fair to live broadcast when not everyone had access to it.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Town Manager Rae Ann Palmer refused to say what the missing piece of broadcast equipment was. The Independent regrets the error.