“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” poet Robert Burns wrote in “To a Mouse.”
On Tuesday night, a word might be added to that famous phrase: “The best laid plans of mice and men… and Mansfield often go awry.”
For a few precious seconds about 7:00 PM, the City of Mansfield’s Facebook page showed what appeared to be Mayor Tim Theaker, with others visible in the frame. The camera view then tilted, and shortly thereafter everything disappeared.
And with that disappearance went an attempt at Mansfield’s first virtual City Council meeting.
The ability for local governmental entities to hold meetings via videoconferencing or telephone conferencing was part of House Bill 197 which was enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. An overview of the Sunshine Law changes enacted at that time can be found on this page of the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
In an announcement posted shortly thereafter on its Facebook Page, the City stated, “Due to technical issues we will be unable to have a council meeting this evening – Finance committee, caucus and council will be broadcast live beginning at 6:30pm Thursday April 9, 2020.”
The City is hardly alone with having technical issues adapting to technology that was in place before but not used to this extent or exactly for this purpose. Many are facing that learning curve head-on, and kudos to the City for making that attempt. Zoom, for instance, an online service used for webinars and meetings, has gone from 20 million users to 200 million users in the last two or three weeks.