Public access story: Meeting taped; those on video not happy.

A western Pennsylvania woman videotapes a borough council’s meetings.
Borough council not real happy.
Spat ensues.
Videos go on YouTube.
Public business done in public with public access through videos. Will mayhem follow?

Thanks to sharp-eyed @jlmosebach for sending me that tip.

About Scott Blanchard

Sunday editor at the York (Pa.) Daily Record/Sunday News. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.
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4 Responses to Public access story: Meeting taped; those on video not happy.

  1. Jo says:

    I have great concerns over videotaping almost anything for the sole purpupose to post on an internet social website. There is absolutely no control over what is actually shown except by the videographer/poster and if I were a public official I’d be scared to death what might be posted. Generally, I’m in line with the ACLU, but not this time. I think public officials holding public meetings should be able to excercise the right to make the rules as to how the meetings are held, including their own taping of the meetings or not. In this day of all sort of electronics equipped with a camera it is probably difficult to outlaw cameras, but I also think they should be required to be turned off during meetings. How did Americans get to the point of turning every event into a sideshow with no rules and my way or no way?

  2. Jo, interesting take on that. To me it seems like if you ban cameras or only allow the municipality to tape, you’re giving over control of the proceedings. For example, council members could decide they don’t want to show a particular resident’s comment in the video. A video of the whole meeting would show things as they happened.
    Granted, a resident taping a meeting could also edit it any way they pleased — and sometimes their goal might not be transparent government, it might be to make the council look bad. In that case, maybe the council wants to tape the meeting, too, so there would be a competing version of events out there.
    In any case, if the choice is between residents having the right to tape the meetings, same as council does, I’d choose to give residents that ability rather than take it away. Thoughts?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I will continue to have reservations on citizens taping public meetings for reasons already stated. There are just too many individuals these days who are hell-bent on creating chaos of all sorts and degrees. We are witnessing this right now in Florida. I do feel strongly though that there should be unedited, written transcripts of all public meetings be made available on request. Videotaping should be done only by the public officials and unedited copies made available on request. I fail to understand why it would be necessary for attendees to videotape a meeting.
    I realize that here in PA, with its tiny fiefdoms called boroughs and townships, that sophistication on operating governments is lacking as are funds to hire educated, experienced and competent employees. I moved back to PA from Fairfax Co. in northern Virginia after a 50+ year absence. And I have to tell you doing so amounted to cultural shock and returning to a time warp. It is very difficult to live here after living for so many years in such a highly educated and progressive area as most of the Washington suburbs are. I attended many county supervisor meetings–which by the way are broadcast on local channels–and never once were attendees allowed to demand how the meetings were conducted. It was expected of people to behave themselves during proceedings and anyone who failed to do so was given a police escort to an exit. There was never any shouting or chest thumping.
    There are always proper procedures for conducting any meeting and the rules apply to everyone. What I find in this area though is that parties on both sides fail to understand the proper rules to conduct a meeting and of personal conduct. It seems half of York County packs a weapon of some sort and frankly, I’d be scared to attend many of the meetings I read about. People are angry today for a lot of reasons and it takes little effort to light a fuse.
    You and I could discuss this forever, I guess. I happen to be a strong supporter of the Rusk Report issued several years ago and hope that movement in that direction hastens. It may not happen in my lifetime, but changes must come to York County and to all of Pennsylvania. Sadly, many here do not understand the need for change.

  4. Excellent point about disruptive behavior. I hadn’t thought about that, and I would certainly hope that people would behave themselves at meetings. But then again, we hear & see enough to know that’s an expectation that isn’t always met.

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