Once Someone Noticed learned of the sudden, surprise decision to halt the long-time practice of videotaping workshops, the most important deliberations when trying to follow Elkton government, we asked several questions of officials. Although we’re still waiting for Mayor Fisona’s answers, as he was the official that issued the order, Town Administrator Lewis George has responded to o ur query. We’re copying his complete email below for readers since the matter of more restrictions on public information has web traffic way up today. Mr. George suggests citizens may use the minutes to follow board activities. By the time an interested observer is able to view minutes, the subject is really old news. In many instances, the town will have formally ratified the straw vote it takes at these meetings and moved on before the information becomes public. As of this afternoon, the last workshop minutes available for an interested observer is June 9, 2010, over two months ago.
Hopefully, Mayor Fisona, the source of the on-the-spot order, will answer so we can add his position on the decision.
——– Email From Lewis George
We have decided not to videotape workshops any longer; however, minutes will be taken and will be available to the public, consistent with the Open Meetings Act. Workshops, albeit open meetings accessible to the public, are intended by the Board to be a forum for informal and frank discussion of matters by Board and by persons invited to speak before the Board. We feel that under certain circumstances people feel more comfortable, and less guarded and apprehensive, if they are given an opportunity to share their ideas and initiate a healthy discussion of those ideas when not being videotaped.
All regularly scheduled meetings, i.e., meetings held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, will continue to be videotaped.
Since the Board’s decisions on matters affecting the Town, its citizens, and the business community are always made in an open meeting, which is recorded in video and audio formats (if all the equipment is functioning properly), as well as documented by minutes, we feel that the goal of maintaining open communication and transparency of government is achieved without compromise.
Let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you!
——END OF EMAIL
Editor’s Note: In reference to our statement about awaiting for a response from Mayor Fisona, he has now responded saying, that he talked to Lewis [town administrator] and believes he has responded to our concerns. That note came in an hour after we posted this news piece.