Maybe board should revisit taping of closed meetings

By Mike Anthony

Nearly 12 years ago, the Crestwood Board of Aldermen voted to record closed sessions involving litigation and real-estate matters.

The city’s policy perhaps is the only one of its kind in the state, and came about in the wake of a lawsuit filed against the city in the late 1990s. After the suit was settled, a Call reporter contacted aldermen for details about the settlement. But aldermen had varying recollections of what transpired during the closed session that resulted in a vote to authorize the city’s insurance company to settle the suit.

Those differing recollections by aldermen sparked a debate that led to the adoption of the policy to record closed sessions.

Mehlville Board of Education members voted in November to reject Secretary Rich Franz’s proposal that audio recordings be made of the board’s closed sessions, with just Franz and board President Mark Stoner voting in favor.

Last week, board members postponed approval of the minutes of their Dec. 12 public meeting because of concerns over three issues that were raised about the accuracy of the draft minutes. As a result, board member Ron Fedorchak said, “I’d make a motion that we postpone approval of the minutes until the tape can be reviewed and accurate minutes can be presented.”

Stoner seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously.

Board member Larry Felton said, “… If we’re going to go to the instant replay for one, we should go for all three.”

Franz later said, “… During the discussion about the minutes, we found ourselves in a position of having to revise minutes from one of the previous meetings. The irony was not wasted on me that this same board voted not to record or videotape minutes for our closed meetings.

“What would you all do if you weren’t able to access those recordings from the open meeting to revise those minutes? Hmm, just something to think about.”

During the debate in November over whether the board’s closed sessions should be recorded, Fedorchak said at one point, “… I don’t see a problem, and I don’t see what we’re solving, so I think it’s a waste of time for (Superintendent) Dr. (Eric) Knost to pursue this …”

Given Mr. Fedorchak’s motion to review the tape of the Dec. 12 public meeting to ensure the accuracy of the minutes, perhaps now he will understand the “problem” that would be solved by taping closed sessions.