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A.M. Briefing: This is not a recording

| June 23, 2010 6:00 AM

Will we soon see a policy about recording devices at Coeur d'Alene school board meetings?

At a meeting last week, a patron was asked by board chair Edie Brooks to turn off her personal video camera while the trustees were interviewing candidates to replace Vern Newby.

The patron did as she was told.

Another citizen at the meeting felt so strongly that the patron's rights were being violated, she called the police, but told them the matter was resolved when Newby suggested they could not prohibit the patron's recording.

"I asked them if they wouldn't video," Brooks said. "It's an interview and it's hard enough for candidates to sit together and be interviewed by a panel."

The school district does its own recording of all of its public meetings for broadcast on Channel 19, and personal video and audio recorders have regularly turned up at school board meetings for several years with no issue.

"We're being videotaped all the time," Brooks said.

Idaho's Open Meeting Law appears to leave the decision whether to permit personal audio or video recordings of public meetings up to the discretion of the government agency holding the meeting.

In the question and answer section of the Idaho Attorney General's Open Meeting Law manual, the issue is addressed under the query: "May qualifications and restrictions be placed on the public's attendance at an open meeting?"

The Attorney General's answer:

“A public agency may adopt reasonable rules and regulations to ensure the orderly conduct of a public meeting and to ensure orderly behavior on the part of those persons attending the meeting. In Nevens v. City of Chino, 44 Cal. Rptr. 50 (Cal. App. 1965), the court nullified a city council measure which prohibited the use of any tape recorders at city council proceedings. While acknowledging that the city council had an absolute right to adopt and enforce rules and regulations necessary to protect its public meetings, the California court held that the rule prohibiting tape recorders was too arbitrary, capricious, restrictive and unreasonable. A similar holding might be reached if a governing body prohibits the use of cameras by news and television people, if their presence is not in fact disruptive of the conduct of the meeting.”

-Maureen Dolan

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