Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lake Station Wants To Ban Private Recordings Of Council Meetings

The Lake Station city council is considering a proposal to ban private citizens from recording their council meetings. One council member complained that the recordings are being played at area bars to entertain patrons. After watching WNDU's recording of Roseland's last council meeting, I can understand why some people might find entertainment value in viewing a council meeting. The Gary Post-Tribune's Karen Snelling writes:

City Council members don't like the idea of Lake Station residents recording them at public council meetings and are moving to outlaw the practice.

"My problem is a resident can take a recording, edit it and make it say anything they want," said Councilman Todd Rogers, D-3rd, who called for the ban on private video and photographic devices.

According to Rogers, someone has videotaped the council's meetings for almost two years and refused to say how the recordings are being used.

"When I ask what they're doing with the tapes, they won't answer. They just say they have a right to record," Rogers said.

City Council President Keith Soderquist said he heard the videotapes are shown at local bars where council members are laughed at for any mistakes they might make.

"I don't mind the camera. I'm a public official and if someone wants to come and record me, Well, whoop-de-do," said Soderquist, who is running for mayor on the Democratic ticket.

Soderquist said he is concerned however about private residents who appear before the council and don't want to be videotaped.

He joined the rest of the council members in requesting that City Council Attorney Michael Deppe draft an ordinance barring private videotaping.

Under the proposed prohibition, no recording devices would be permitted at a council meeting without the council's consent by vote.

"It is essential that council members and members of the public be able to speak freely and without the threat of being recorded and photographed," the draft ordinance states.

It's unclear if the ordinance runs afoul of the Indiana Open Door Law, which gives the public the right to observe and record government meetings.

Deppe could not be reached for comment. Lake Station City Attorney Ray Szarmach was not available either.


Anonymous said...

Another example of the lawman not upholding his duty, but using it to assault and batter someone. Great video that will surely lead to charges on the officer....a reasonable person would think.

Thanks Gary.

Bart Lies said...

These are, after all, PUBLIC meetings.

We cannot bring cameras into the City County Building in Indianapolis, either. It's definitely wrong. If a person becomes disruptive, that's one thing, but just recording the public debate is most certainly NOT.

Anonymous said...

A simple solution to the issue of recording these meetings is for the agency conducting the meeting to do it's own recording. That way there would be record of the events of the meeting in case anybody wanted to compare a possible edited version against the original. Public officials that are doing their job in the manner they are supposed to should never fear the scrutiny of the public but rather should welcome it. Unless, of course, they have something to hide and fear exposure.

Anonymous said...

The South Bend Common Council employs someone to videotape, however they are only there for 1 1/2 to 2 hours so longer meetings are left unrecorded for the public. That videotape is then shown on public access TV, unedited.

The complete meeting is recorded on audio by the clerk's office which is then used for the transcript.

That's not bad but it doesn't provide an accurate record of EXACTLY what was said.

They do allow private recording though because the group opposing our human rights ordninance always had a video camera rolling.

I have no problem with private recordings so long as a private individual be allowed to request that the recording stop while they speak.

That seems like a reasonable approach to me.

Public officials afraid of being laughed at is hardly a reason to prevent recording their comments.

Anonymous said...

"...the recordings are being played at area bars to entertain patrons."

That is too funny. Is there time to get this into production for a mid-season reality show?