They’re live… on yer laptop

City Council comes alive... on your computer. Take Kevin Lynch (shown here) for instance. You can actually watch him debate the City housing policy and whether a penny of the property tax or 20 percent of the hotel tax or something else should be dedicated to helping people afford housing.

Yes, tonight is the debut of the City's new live (and archived) online videocasting system.

Already, you've grown accustomed to watching "channel 10" coverage of Council meetings, but now your TV has been joined by your computer as your gateway to City Council and other City Meetings. City spokesman Rick Barrick says internet surfers will also be able to reference points of the meeting by searching key words or by jumping directly ahead to the next agenda item.

Barrick lauds this great way for citizens and the media to be able to see city meetings on their schedule. Tonight’s City Council Meeting will be streamed and archived "shortly" after broadcast. Uber-blogger Waldo Jaquith lauds the system as "very impressive."

Besides watching Council, viewers may also find Board of Architectural Review, Planning Commission, and other city meetings broadcast from City Council Chambers in the same format– which is some sort of Windows Media. The good news for Macintosh users is that Windows Media is a free download that works on many late-model Macs.

Barrick says we should also look for podcastable audio files for smaller meetings held outside of Council Chamber in the near future.

Back to the housing report for a moment: Kendra Hamilton wonders if the money can really get much done, while Mayor David Brown and Councilor Dave Norris sound notes that we must do something. He says the City should put "more pressure" on UVA to house more of its students and offered as evidence the fact that UVA houses only one third of its undergraduates. (Many free-marketeers, however, like that fact because it bolsters the private sector and expands the taxable property base instead of putting students in tax-free dorms.)