Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Smile, You're On ...

Monday's agenda-fixing session was recorded, presumably for viewing on Channel 74.

Ray Blanco would have plotzed.

The late City Council president was in the film industry and knew all too well the need for proper lighting and sound to make a video recording tolerable to watch. Alas, the lighting was execrable and the set-up was such that the camera was pointed at the back of Police Director Martin Hellwig's head as he made an important report on the reorganization of the Police Division. A noisy air conditioner and less-than-stentorian delivery by speakers added to the poor sound quality.

But at least it happened. There has been a lot of talk about why council meetings aren't televised. The last thing I heard was that the city's Communications staff was ready to do it, warts and all, as soon as the council agreed. Since City Hall Library is not likely to resemble a sound stage anytime soon, the product is what it is.

I look forward to seeing it on the screen. I'll be the one squinting from the glare of the extra light fixture that was set up.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be nice if the made the video available on line also with streaming video. But I guess that is asking too much

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The council has no say in whether or not public meetings are aired. Any resident can go in with a handheld video camera, record the proceedings, and put them up on YouTube. Last week, at the Muhlenberg hearing at PHS, I was videorecording portions of the meeting, and I was approached first by school security staff and told that I had to stop recording because there were only 3 entities allowed to record. I informed them that they had no right to stop me and continued recording. Another security guard came over and told me to stop recording and I told her that I had a right to videotape the public meeting. I asked her by whose authority was I told to stop, and she said Mr. Moye. I asked her to have Mr. Moye come down and explain to me why I needed to stop. She left, and Mr. Moye did not appear. Finally, Plainfield police officer Andre Crawford came over and told me to stop recording. He offered no reason for telling me to stop when I informed him that I did not need his permission to stop. When I got to the podium to speak, I stated that the decision handed down by the NJ Supreme Court in 2007 affirmed the right of the public to videotape public meetings. As a citizen, a resident of Plainfield, and a longstanding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, I am quite disturbed that my rights were potentially violated. I was sitting in my seat with my camera, and I obstructed nothing. Since at least 20-30 other citizens in the audience were photographing and/or recording from video cameras, still cameras, and camera phones, I asked that we all be arrested if we were indeed breaking the law. No action was taken, of course. The state hearing committee said that they had no objection to anyone videotaping--even though it's not their call, either. I suggest that Police Director Hellwig, our elected officials, and all school officials make sure that those citizens who exercise their right to free speech are respected and given the utmost courtesy by law enforcement personnel.

1:29 PM  

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