Hospital district must post video of meetings


Robert Earley is the president and chief executive officer of JPS Health Network in Fort Worth.
Robert Earley is the president and chief executive officer of JPS Health Network in Fort Worth. Star-Telegram

The Tarrant County Hospital District Board of Managers, the official body that governs the tax-supported JPS Health Network, is looking at, studying and otherwise contemplating entering the wonderfully high-tech 21st century.

They need to know that they are encouraged to take the leap, and that their arrival would be welcomed.

At their Jan. 14 board meeting, the 11 managers instructed the JPS staff to gather information about installing equipment that would make video of their meetings available to anyone who wants to watch on the Internet.

They may not be the last local government body to take this step, but they’re definitely helping drag up the rear.

Most local cities and school districts have posted video, both live-streamed and archived, online for years.

The Tarrant Regional Water District, itself a late-comer to Internet video, set up its system to broadcast board meetings in February 2014.

Of course, it’s not free. The TRWD spent about $75,000 on its system.

Tarrant County Commissioner Andy Nguyen and his representative on the hospital district board, Arlington lawyer Warren Norred, have been urging the board to post meeting videos.

“We are living in the information age,” Nguyen has said. “We can do better.”

Of course, the John Peter Smith Hospital on South Main Street and JPS clinics across the county are no strangers to high-tech gear. They have some of the most advanced medical equipment available.

But there’s not a good way for Tarrant County taxpayers to keep up with what the board is doing other than trekking to the monthly meetings in person.

The meetings are usually in the middle of a weekday, so that’s not an easy thing for some people to do.

The hospital district has some special challenges. For one thing, its meeting room is not set up like the more proper places where city councils, school boards and county commissioners meet. It’s more like a classroom.

And it’s not like they can just stick up some cameras and hook them to a computer.

It’s important that the video provide clear shots of each board member and each meeting participant, with enough microphones to provide good sound quality.

The system should provide both live-streamed video and archived video of past meetings.

This is a step that the hospital district simply must take. Transparency is vital in government, and today that means giving taxpayers information quickly online, including video of board meetings.