City Council meetings have moved online, as Bayonne copes with the COVID-19 pandemic. The move comes after Gov. Phil Murphy’s order last month for all residents to stay home unless travel is necessary.
The city council needed to find a way to continue to hold its meetings in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act as well as the stay-at-home order.
In Hoboken and Jersey City, council meetings have been held on Zoom as members meet from home. Bayonne follows suit but with a different platform.
TetherView operates the online service the city will use to broadcast its meetings to the public.
The ‘digital bunker’
TetherView has been run by CEO and founder Michael Abboud since 2015.
According to Abboud, TetherView is a private cloud company that has created a “digital bunker,” referring to the comprehensive backup plan that TetherView offers businesses.
“We move businesses to the cloud and enable mobility,” Abboud said. “TetherView allows people to work from home, from any internet connection without compromising security or compliance.”
The digital bunker includes virtual desktops and servers, an operating system, training and support, data backup and continuity, and other tools as well as the implementation of the program.
TetherView has a dedicated team to help local municipalities maintain continuity of government during the ongoing pandemic, free of cost to Bayonne.
“What I wanted to do was help local municipalities keep business moving forward,” Abboud said. “Ultimately, I think it’s important that the public have the opportunity to interact with local government in a safe way,”
How it works
TetherView has helped the city of Oceanport host two public meetings. Bayonne plans to hold its council meetings on TetherView through May.
Official action may be taken only at the regular meetings. All virtual meetings will begin at 7 p.m. Meetings are conducted virtually from the city hall at 630 Avenue C. The meetings will also be televised on FIOS’s Local Government Channel 78.
The public will be able to view the meeting and participate remotely. For members of the public to participate remotely, they must register through the city website.
After clicking on the link, participants will be brought to a City of Bayonne remote participation website. Residents who want to comment at an ordinance hearing must register on the website and type question into the “Chat or questions” section.
They will be placed on mute until it is their turn. Residents must “raise their hand” to be considered for participation.
Legal under Murphy’s executive order
Abboud cited Gov. Murphy’s recent executive order that allowed municipal public meetings to be held in such a manner.
An official public notice from the city states:
“The City of Bayonne’s Emergency Management Coordinator has determined that the public’s attendance at public meetings of the Municipal Council of the City of Bayonne would pose a risk to the health, safety and welfare of the public,” the notice stated. “The State of New Jersey has provided authority for a public entity to proceed with a remote-only meeting through the use of communication equipment that would still allow for the public’s participation.”
The Bayonne City Council successfully held its first meeting via TetherView on April 9, a council caucus meeting. The next meetings include the regular council meeting on April 15, the next caucus meeting on May 6, and the subsequent council meeting on May 13.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.