Elected official proposes city meetings be recorded

Letters+to+the+editor

“Call the Tune” by Mike Anthony
Executive Editor
news1@callnewspapers.com

Mike Anthony

We attended the very first meeting of the Green Park Board of Aldermen, which took place June 1, 1995, at the Tesson Ferry Branch County Library.

In April 1995, voters approved the incorporation of the city of Green Park with 614 people in favor and 336 opposed.

The building where that first meeting took place no longer exists — a new Fresh Thyme Farmers Market occupies the site, and sadly, to the best of our knowledge, no audio or video recordings exist of that historic event.

And since the city’s inception, Green Park officials have never recorded any of their meetings with audio or video equipment. As such, the city has no historical record of its Board of Aldermen meetings.

But Ward 1 Alderman Michael Broughton, who is really beginning to come into his own on the board, recently suggested that the city start audio recording board meetings. He noted that audio recordings of the meetings would assist City Administrator/City Clerk James Mello and Deputy City Clerk Diane DeLonjay in the preparation of meeting minutes.

“You know when things start picking up and going fast that you can go back over the audio,” Broughton said at the Feb. 20 Board of Aldermen meeting, adding that plans are in the works for City Hall to have a sound system for meetings.

Mello said audio recordings could be made of meetings, but cautioned, “… There’s certain legal implications that go along with audio recording with how you report that and records you have to keep based on that … Sometimes it can be a little difficult with people maybe scrutinizing what you say in the moment versus what you intended to say or what you meant. So it can cause some conflicts down the road. That’s why most cities don’t do that, but it’s your prerogative.”

Asked by Broughton if other cities record meetings, Mello said, “No cities that I’m aware of keep actual audio records. I’m sure there are some, but it’s a minority for sure.”

We believe Broughton’s suggestion to audio record meetings is excellent, and one that is not without precedent, as both the nearby cities of Crestwood and Sunset Hills audio record their meetings.

Having audio recordings of Green Park meetings would ensure an accurate record is maintained, as city officials’ recollections of what transpired at a meeting may differ.

As such, we urge Green Park officials to take the steps necessary to start audio recording their board meetings.