Opinion - Saratoga Springs Politics

The below blog posts are written by John Kaufmann.
These opinions do not reflect the views of Saratoga TODAY newspaper.

Thursday, 09 March 2023 14:30

More Problem In Minita Sanghvi’s IT Operation

By John Kaufmann | Saratoga Springs Politics
More Problem In Minita Sanghvi’s IT Operation
In February, Henry37, a frequent commenter on this blog, posted a comment pointing out that only one of the videos of the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals had been posted this year.
'Most taxpaying citizens of Saratoga Springs do not have the time, the energy, and in some cases the physical ability to attend these meetings in person. Many plans are already “in the works”, and some are no doubt already approved. Where is the transparency that was promised by EVERY City Council member?'
I went to the city's site. For those unfamiliar with the site, consider the following web page. Note the circled item titled "Webcast Archive." Henry37 and I have always used this as a path to view videos:
The link leads to this web page.
This screenshot was made after the videos were finally posted.
I wrote to Commissioner Minta Sanghvi whose office is responsible for maintaining the city's website. I asked her to please explain why the videos were not posted.
The short version for those of you who do not want to go into the weeds was that her staff had failed to promptly update the proper city web page the public would use to view the videos.
Instead of just conceding the error and offering some sort of narrative as to how this would not happen again, she sent me two emails that did not address my question.
First, she sent me a different web page that did have the links but was not where the public could expect to find them. When I pointed this out to her, she had her IT person write me what turned out to be a description of the process used to post videos. Interestingly, this last email affirmed that the contractor who actually shoots and stores the videos is required to send Sanghvi's office links to new videos within twenty-four hours.
Assuming the contractor met his/her contractual obligations, then the breakdown had to be in her operation.
She also advised me that, as far as she was concerned, this matter was "closed."
What is striking is that she seems to be uninterested as to why her office failed to post the land-use boards videos for over a month. I have to wonder whether she actually read what her staff had written.
I expect it was a simple oversight and hopefully will not happen again, but her lack of curiosity and her dismissal of the problem as "completed" does not encourage confidence.
The Emails
[JK: Readers, the links in the following email are not on the city's "web archive" page]
From: Minita Sanghvi This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2023 2:07 PM

To: john kaufmann21; Heather Crocker; angela rella

Subject: PB and ZBA meetings
Mr. Kaufmann,
Please see the links below with PB and ZBA Meeting videos.
The videos are immediately available under the live meeting archive menu.
Minita Sanghvi
Commissioner of Finance

Saratoga Springs, NY


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

From: Minita Sanghvi This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sent: Friday, February 23, 2023 9;28 PM

To: john kaufmann21; Heather Crocker; angela rella

Subject: PB and ZBA meetings
[The IT persons answers to my questions are in red]
Here are the answers from our IT department. We consider this matter completed now. 
Commissioner Sanghvi
RE: PB and ZBA meetings
1) I see that on the webcast archives page someone has added one video but two are still missing.  Why would someone add just one video?
The archives page requires manual update and auditing to confirm no items were missed.
2) Do you plan to stop posting videos on the webcast archives page and now have them under “live meetings?”
No, the live meetings page was added only to speed access for the public to new meetings; this is updated by our vendor when they finish indexing our videos.
3) I am at a loss as to understand why you would change the location for accessing these videos. I have two questions: 
a) Did you alert the public that you were moving the videos? We did not move any meetings; there are simply two different places to see them now, which are currently not always in sync because of the manual process required to update the webcast archives page.
b) Why would you move them given the title under the city’s agenda says “webcast archives?” There is no intention to move these.
We use a vendor, Swagit, to handle processing and indexing our videos against our agendas.  It is important to understand that first, as they also host a webpage archive where all of our videos are linked.  That is the page that is embedded on the "Live Meetings" page, and is not actually a part of our website and we do not manually update.  When Swagit processes a video, it is first loaded onto that page.  Since it is embedded on our website, it is available as soon as Swagit has processed it, which can take up to 24 hours according to our contract.  The embedded page is only an addition, or an enhancement, that provides an alternate location for people to view them and it is not intended to replace our agenda archive.
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