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Expert: resident can tape meetings

John L. Byrne, a town resident who was almost arrested for videotaping a Town Council meeting Thursday, should be allowed to tape the meetings, according to Robert J. Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government. ..."They are just trying to degrade the town board," Mr. Rienbeck said. "They're waiting for somebody, like me or the Planning Board chairman, Richard Edsall, to lose temper." For several years, the Town Council has been in conflict with the Wind Power Ethics Group.

CAPE VINCENT - Keep that camera rolling.

John L. Byrne, a town resident who was almost arrested for videotaping a Town Council meeting Thursday, should be allowed to tape the meetings, according to Robert J. Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government.

"Anybody can videotape or audio record an open meeting so long as the device is not disruptive or obtrusive," Mr. Freeman said.

There is nothing in the Open Meetings Law to address the issue, he said. However, there are judicial precedents allowing the use of tape recorders at open meetings, and those would apply to the use of video recorders, Mr. Freeman said.

Town Supervisor Thomas K. Rienbeck called police to arrest Mr. Byrne shortly after the meeting started Thursday night.

Deputy Sheriff Shaun D. Cuddeback, who was called into the meeting along with village Police Chief Thomas S. Strejlau, took the Town Council members outside to advise them that they could face a civil suit if an arrest was made.

No arrest was made, and Mr. Byrne was allowed to tape the meeting.

"The camera is disruptive of the meeting," Councilman Joseph H. Wood said.

Mr. Rienbeck said he wanted to stop Mr. Byrne from... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

CAPE VINCENT - Keep that camera rolling.

John L. Byrne, a town resident who was almost arrested for videotaping a Town Council meeting Thursday, should be allowed to tape the meetings, according to Robert J. Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government.

"Anybody can videotape or audio record an open meeting so long as the device is not disruptive or obtrusive," Mr. Freeman said.

There is nothing in the Open Meetings Law to address the issue, he said. However, there are judicial precedents allowing the use of tape recorders at open meetings, and those would apply to the use of video recorders, Mr. Freeman said.

Town Supervisor Thomas K. Rienbeck called police to arrest Mr. Byrne shortly after the meeting started Thursday night.

Deputy Sheriff Shaun D. Cuddeback, who was called into the meeting along with village Police Chief Thomas S. Strejlau, took the Town Council members outside to advise them that they could face a civil suit if an arrest was made.

No arrest was made, and Mr. Byrne was allowed to tape the meeting.

"The camera is disruptive of the meeting," Councilman Joseph H. Wood said.

Mr. Rienbeck said he wanted to stop Mr. Byrne from taping the meeting because, he said, the footage would be edited for the sole purpose of humiliating the town officials.

"They are just trying to degrade the town board," Mr. Rienbeck said. "They're waiting for somebody, like me or the Planning Board chairman, Richard Edsall, to lose temper."

For several years, the Town Council has been in conflict with the Wind Power Ethics Group, which opposes unregulated wind development in Cape Vincent, over the proposed wind development projects in the town.

Mr. Byrne is a member of WPEG.

There are two wind projects proposed in Cape Vincent: the Cape Vincent Wind Farm in the southern part of the town's agricultural district and the St. Lawrence Wind Farm planned for the northern agricultural district.

Jefferson County Legislator Michael J. Docteur, R-Cape Vincent, said the town should allow the public to videotape its meetings regardless of how the content is used.

"Any one of you can sit home, you can cut that and paste it to a blog and make all the derogatory remarks you want. It's free press," he said. "That's the 21st-century medium."

Mr. Byrne said he started attending town meetings four years ago and filmed about a dozen town meetings to share with people who were unable to attend.

His footage of the first eight minutes of Thursday's council meeting was posted on YouTube and was viewed more than 1,000 times by Friday afternoon.

Mr. Byrne said he will continue to record the town meetings despite the criticism from the town officials.

"If it's a constitutional right given to us, I will exercise that right," he said.


Source: http://www.watertowndailyti...

AUG 16 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/21758-expert-resident-can-tape-meetings
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