Why stop recording meetings?
Published 1:22 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward counties audiotape their meetings. Some towns and counties even go so far as to live stream/televise their proceedings.
But here in Farmville, Town Manager (Gerald) Spates said, legally, we do not need to audio record meetings: “In an effort to save time and increase efficiency …” Really? Town government may be following the letter of the law, but it makes one wonder — why stop recording the meetings now?
How can a secretary or clerk remember exactly what went on at a meeting the next day, let alone 10-15 days later? Is it OK to fudge what was said or leave out certain crucial items? An audio or video recording of the meeting to refer to would ensure the minutes’ veracity.
Considering the contentious issues surrounding the apartment project, it should be logical for town council to choose the route of increased transparency. Further, it should not be for the town manager to unilaterally make the decision to stop recording the meetings.
Mayor David Whitus’ “…best recollection minutes” just doesn’t cut it. Recollection leaves the record open to editing/doctoring and, later, council will swear to it — after all, who remembers?
With council already suffering from a serious lack of transparency, every effort should be made to record all of the council and planning commission meetings, and the tapes archived.