The news that Ethics Commission meetings will likely soon find a home on your TV dial is not a victory for quality television programming. Viewers will not weigh between taking in commission meetings or The Wire. The Ethics Commission may deal with its share of bloodsuckers, but there are no vampires -- which would have improved ratings.
But while jokes about the turgid nature of televised government meetings are fun -- and easy -- they miss the point. San Francisco is a city that, literally, does not know how many commissions it has. Many of them are also televised. And yet the body that adjudicates (or doesn't) campaign law and political fundraising is not on TV -- and its members liked it that way.
This ridiculous situation reached its apogee in July. In a rare bout of assertiveness, the commission suggested to Mayor Ed Lee that Library Commission president Jewelle Gomez be dismissed for voraciously shouting down a would-be speaker. Gomez's tirade was caught on video -- which seemed to have a far more salient effect on the Ethics Commissioners than the merits of the case. Yet, at the very same meeting in which it was so influenced by a recording of a government meeting, the Ethics Commission opined that its own meetings should not be recorded.
So, once again, Joss Whedon is not feeling the heat based on ethics meetings finding their way onto local television or SFGTV. The primary start-to-end viewership for government meetings is, essentially, zealots, masochists, and people who died before changing the channel.
But the Gomez example illustrates that there's a value in recording government meetings, even if people don't hold viewership parties and crack open beers when watching them. It's important to have a record of how our governmental bodies act.
Or, as is all too often the case with Ethics, how it fails to act.
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