Gwinnett County’s ‘informal’ discussion not broadcast or streamed

Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. AJC FILE PHOTO

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Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. AJC FILE PHOTO

Over lunch Tuesday afternoon, Gwinnett County commissioners had a wide-ranging conversation that touched on everything from budget priorities to emergency funding that is available in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Two county commissioners were in the room. Two were on the phone. But unless members of the public showed up at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, they couldn’t hear the discussion.

“The public can attend in person,” Gwinnett spokesperson Joe Sorenson emailed, in response to a question about whether the informal business discussion would be made publicly available.

The county airs work session and business session meetings on its local access TV station, and streams them online. But the informal discussions take place in a conference room that lacks the equipment to broadcast meetings, Sorenson said. Despite a reporter’s request to watch the meeting online or otherwise monitor the conversation, no option was given.

After the meeting, Sorenson sent the minutes.

"The Board discussed elections, transit, strategic planning, budget priorities, federal COVID-19 emergency funding programs, and their meeting schedule," said the meeting minutes. "No official action taken."

No more information was available regarding the specifics of the discussion, though Sorenson said the informal conversation was in some cases echoed that afternoon by public discussion regarding elections and other items. Commissioners decided to hold another meeting — which Sorenson said will be accessible online — to discuss early voting and strategic plans.

Sorenson said he is working to make it so the informal discussions can be broadcast during the coronavirus pandemic, when residents are urged to stay at home to practice social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19.