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EDITORIAL: Tornquist admits he doesn’t want you to have access to City Council meetings

Editorial by Matt Marquardt –

Did city staff bamboozle the Mayor and City Council, or is Mason City just too good for YouTube?

Per a recommendation from city staff, the Mason City Council recently approved (5-1, John Lee against) the purchase of software called Granicus, for $2,625 upfront and $249 per month, to show and archive council meetings on the internet.

Nevermind that there is a service out there, used by millions, called YouTube.  It is free.  The President uses it.  Mitt Romney uses it.  So do Senators Harkin and Grassley.  The City of Clear Lake uses it, too.  In fact, YouTube is big on offering channels for government use and explains how to easily use their service.

In fact almost everything “city staff” (What is city staff?  Is that just Brent Trout or others?) wants to accomplish with Granicus can be done for free.  For years, there has been absolutely no need to print hard copies of the council packets that are typically hundreds of pages long and put them in binders.  PDF documents sent to an email account would have solved that for about $0.00.

But, our illustrious Mayor, Eric Bookmeyer, and his At-Large Councilman Scott Tornquist used the same word to describe the ground-breaking service at YouTube: “Hokey.”

“I’m not excited at all about putting city council meetings up on YouTube,” Tornquist pontificated.  “That’s not the image of Mason City government that I am interested in.”

Sorry to ruin your excitement, Scott, but City Council meetings, and a lot more, have been on YouTube for years, courtesy of  You are one of the stars in those videos.

I did inquire with Clear Lake’s City Administrator Scott Flory.  They have been using YouTube for months.

First I asked him about “additional bandwidth” to upload the council meetings.  Brent Trout says the City would need $500 per month for more “bandwidth” in order to use YouTube.

“I do not believe that was an issue,” Flory said.

Flory had great things to say about YouTube.

“To the best of my knowledge YouTube has worked very well for us and has been cost-effective, with no security or other issues. We selected YouTube since several other cities are using it and they gave us good feedback about it,” he said. “We get good comments from the public about it. Not a lot of bells and whistles, but we didn’t think all the extra features some cities want we’re necessary for us for the money.

Tornquist is apparently cut from a different cloth.

“I’m the guy that’s pretty resistant to change,” Tornquist offered.  “Technology kinda scares me a little bit.”

Stunningly, Tornquist admitted that he wants city government hidden from the public.

“The majority of the community doesn’t have access to the council meetings.  To me, that may not be all bad,” Tornquist seethed.  “I will not ever be a person that supports YouTube.”

Umm.  OK Scott.

I’m not making this up.  Scott Tornquist really said all this, and it is ready for you to watch in the YouTube video below.  Thank you, YouTube.  Mayor Eric Bookmeyer can be heard in the video laughing, generally approving Tornquist’s admission.

Janet Solberg, perhaps equally stunning, asked if council meeting videos could be “copyrighted.”

Sorry Janet, but no, the public has a right to watch your shenanigans and hold you accountable.

Jean Marinos said that the council packets “bother” her, and have done so for years. She said she “hopes” her packet ends up “in the recycle” the next day.  It might be easier to read “War and Peace” than a council packet, but if Jean can do it and absorb it all in a day or two, more power to her.  I mean, I assume she reads the packet.  All the council does, right?

Oh, one last point.

Mayor Bookmeyer used YouTube when he was running for office.  See that video here.

Watch this short YouTube video:


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VOTE THESE BUMS OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyone doubting turncoats ego just needs to watch the video of him trying to overwhelm the LNI at his first meeting concerning the waste to energy plant. Pathetic. With the beerman his actions speek for themselves.

This same problem – lack of transparency – public not having access – was occuring with the Cerro Gordo Board of Supervisors meetings as well; not sure if it’s been corrected.

“Janet Solberg, perhaps equally stunning, asked if council meeting videos could be “copyrighted.””

I also find it stunning. Here is a person, who volunteered to run for office, and takes part in municipal business, as well as being a representative of another business, asking such a silly question. I thought such people were hired for their business acumen and general knowledge?

Why is it then, a person who has no formal education, yet can understand the concept of where and how to apply copyright? Most who read these pages can also discern the same.

Most if not all the posts made here by yours truly are verified prior to typing. It is about the same as one who speaks publicly. If the esteemed Councilperson cannot take the time to use Google or her past knowledge before making such statements, it is stunning!

Well as usual, I see that after cleansing this laptop, it also removed my user name. Score one for this dummy!

It is easier to ask than to self educate. This is the climate we live in today.

“Turncoat and the beerman are so in to themselves that they can’t even see how stupid they are. Overinflated egos flock together.”

I personally do not follow the line of ego’s being a motivator. I do have many questions however.

First, for the cost of a decent camera and tripod, one can ‘film’ the whole meeting, then connect it to any computer, log into your account, press one button, and it is automatically uploaded to YouTube. No messy conversions, no re-formatting (although I prefer editing). It’s really painless.

So as Matt has alluded to, many many governments in the U.S. and world-wide use it as a method to further informing it’s citizens on issues and business it takes up.

No, the resistance to YouTube seems to be a personal paradigm. My long education with public policy and politics has taught cynicism where full transparency is not wanted or desired.

When referring to Chicago Aldermen, Mike Royko would defer to the the unofficial motto of that august body; “Where’s mine”. And in this case, one has to ask that very question. Faced with many choices, both free and paid, it makes you wonder.

Why would a small town, with finite funds, pay for someone to post videos on a almost unknown site when just about anyone who can use a mouse and push a button can do the same for free, and everyone knows how to find YouTube?

Remember, this ain’t Beverly Hills or Westchester, NY where one can find funds for anything, including gold plated hand rails at City Hall.

It begs the question, what is really in it for them? Will Ubi mea? become the de facto motto of Mason City?

love the before and after pictures of backdoor. He’s living proof of what a taxpayer funded expense card can do.

Turncoat and the beerman are so in to themselves that they can’t even see how stupid they are. Overinflated egos flock together.

Matt, have you ever considered that maybe the mayor and council won’t call you back because of your negative spins on everything they say and do? No matter how anyone votes, what they say, etc., you always editorialize in such a way to cause dissention. You only put in parts of stories that slant it the way you want it. You take your videos and then pause the pictures to get the worst shot of them & then print them. You supposedly have rules that bloggers are supposed to follow but then allow filthy profanity, degrading language and name calling on the blogs. So again, why would anyone return your calls? Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Don’t be so thin-skinned and bullying. Be a pro. Rise above it.

Just watched some old video on YouTube courtesy of NIT and noticed Bookmeyer giving Max the finger. I apologize if this was brought up here before but I didn’t know about it before. Max just got done chastising the Globe and then endorsed NIT. Bookmeyer thanked Weaver for his comments and flipped him the bird. Lol. Classy. Check it out…it’s at 2:41.

This is your Mayor…what a class act.

I’ve seen this happen too and thought it was deliberate. However, it cis still happening even when other council members speak for Bookmeyers pet issues. I am pretty sure it’s just his common gesture. he isn’t that subtle when he takes cheap shots.

Matt – You report half the story, Kuhn offered an amendment to eliminate this and he and Lee voted for it, the other 4 voted it down.

Why only report half the story and not give Kuhn credit for attempting to stop this?

I told all my friends when Tornquist was running for the 1st time to watch out for this guy. I had seen his type before. Sadly to say I was correct. Also, I have said it before, the only one on the current council that has ever answered my e-mails was Kuhn. Nelson, Marsters and Weaver ALWAYS answered e-mail and phone calls. We really lost something when we lost them. I wasn’t always a Max fan but I sure miss him now.

I seriously hope this makes people turn out for the next election. GET THEM THE HELL OUT!

Matt, do you notice how they don’t comment on here as much. They realize their days are numbered.

Bookmeyer and his bafoons. It looked as tho they hammered you hard with the whole trash to energy BS. Of course, they never used their real names but it wasn’t hard to figure out who “they” were. Now, it seems as tho they don’t bash you on here as much. Too bad, I always enjoyed how cool you stayed and handled it professionally. Keep up the good work Matt. We support all that you do here for us.

When Is Eric up for re election??? I pray someone with class and a business savvy runs against him.

I was at the city council meeting Tuesday night and I couldn’t believe it when Tornquist said, ” The majority of the community doesn’t have access to the council meetings. To me, that may not be all bad,” Wow, how sad it that he does’t want the citizens of mason city to know what is going on at the meetings. He really showed his true colors that night. The more they keep citizens in the dark it is easier for them to do what THEY want not what the people want. I hope everyone remembers what he said and how he feels come election day and cast your vote accordingly. He dose not want the people to be informed same as the mayor. I love the smile on Bookmeyers face while Tornquist is talking he also shows his true colors. I knew when I got up and said how I felt about the art it wasn’t going to make a difference but I wanted the voters to hear their excuses why we needed the art and how freely they spend our money. I can’t wait until budget time next year and they have to go looking for money to meet the budget or cut back because we don’t have the funds. Does anyone remember when the Globe did a article on the school budget? We may have to raise taxed to pay for our kids education. Well, as your going to the court house look around and enjoy the beautiful art that will be there remember it wasn’t tax money that paid for it just like our council wants every citizen to know what is really going on in this city.


I can’t believe that these people are the ones who are to have the insite to lead.

You have 12 year old kids upload video in real time and these guys don’t understand how it works and it can’t be worth a damn if it doesn’t have a price tag

City of Clear Lake works with CL-Tel to not only put the video of council meetings on YouTube, but on also via CL-Visions TV service.

These clowns run there city council meetings like there schools.As currupt as thay can get away with.this town thinks there above the law.Thats why is going to hell around here.took my wife out the other nite had to protect her from drunken scumbags trying to grope all over her.this place is the pits…..

Go back to school.

Scary that people in politics, and someone with “authority” is afraid of change!!!! Stay narrow minded, that will solve all the problems!
Im not originally from Iowa, and unfortunetly from my experiences here, Mr Tornquist is part of the norm.

No worries. Remember that “change” slogan. It’s coming….but THIS time it’ll be good.

we need not to re vote scott back in next time, I think scott is a moron, VOTE SCOTT OUT!!!!

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