Kudos to Spates on recordings reversal

Published 2:50 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2016

We offer sincere praise to Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates for reversing an earlier decision he made regarding recording Farmville Town Council meetings.

As we expressed back in late August, Spates’ decision to end the practice didn’t exactly engender confidence in the town’s commitment to transparency.

We’re also glad Spates said the town clerk will use the recordings to create the minutes of the meetings. A direct transcription will, ultimately, make for an even better written record of council’s official business in order for everyone to know exactly what transpired.

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Back in August, we also said audio recording and archiving is very easy and inexpensive to do now, as is video recording, a step we would still like to see taken as well.

That is why there is still one aspect of Spates’ new decision we don’t quite understand: The town will not archive the recordings. Even though Spates cited the Library of Virginia in stating the town doesn’t have to archive recordings, we think it would still be easy, inexpensive and the right thing to do. Keeping a meeting’s recording on the town’s website for only month isn’t enough. What if paper copies are destroyed? What if someone wants to double-check transcribed meeting minutes with an audio recording three months or three years later?

Yes, we applaud Spates’ decision — and we hope council does as well. Yet, we hope for a little bit more to ensure all records, audio or print, are kept for posterity.