SIOUX CITY | Woodbury County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matthew Ung is vacationing halfway around the world, but he's not letting that prevent him from participating in weekly board meetings.
A week ago while on vacation to China, Ung used teleconferencing to hear the May 16 supervisors meeting proceedings and vote. In spite of the 13-hour time difference, Ung joined the other four county supervisors back in downtown Sioux City.
In one funny passage, Ung referenced that he is east of the International Date Line, which is located halfway around the world from the prime meridian. That date line demarcation runs between North America and Asia in the Pacific Ocean, so he was one day ahead of the supervisors back in Iowa.
Amid a short pause on a meeting topic, Ung said, "I am waiting for you. Technically, I am in the future."
Ung was referencing the short delay of a few seconds for him to be heard back in Sioux City. He said that technological glitch was a small price to pay, in carrying out his quest to not miss meetings. If Ung can't be there in person, he has used teleconferencing to take part, he told the Journal via messaging from China.
"Skype with WiFi has worked the best, but I've had to use prepaid phones or an international calling plan as backup a few times when signals drop," Ung said.
Ung also teleconferenced into the Tuesday county board meeting. Past county supervisor Jackie Smith did that before she left the board in 2016, and current Supervisor Jeremy Taylor has too while at a conference in Dallas.
Taylor said he's wanted to call into supervisor meetings when away over the past two years on military service training, but scheduling for that hasn't worked out.
"I felt that if I could be there even telephonically that it was right to weigh in and be kept informed when an obligation made it so that I could otherwise not attend," Taylor said.
Through his teleconferencing on the China trip and others in the past, Ung said he's only missed one meeting in two and a half years as a supervisor. That occurred in April 2015, when he was on the annual lobbying trip by the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
"Some people call this a part time job, but I want to put in full time effort and serve diligently my constituents. Honestly I've thought of it more as a good habit, although I realize now it's a good record to have. Unless it's humanly impossible to attend or call in, I won't miss a meeting," Ung said.
While the supervisors meetings begin at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with the time difference, Ung had to get started when it was 5:30 a.m. on his Wednesday. He said the early time isn't a problem.
"If I'm on vacation, I'll try to plan ahead to make sure I have the meeting time free enough to call in," Ung said.