Sunday, October 23, 2005

Recording Public Meetings

I love C-SPAN. I don't watch it all that often, but I love that I can go back to big recent events in government and watch them for myself. It is interesting to note that C-SPAN is not a government organization. I'm greatful for the resource it has become.

The Deseret News reports that there is pending legislation to force recording of public meetings to avoid possible disputes over the content of the minutes of the meeting which are the currently accepted record of the meeting.

While I think the goal is good, I don't know that it is a good investment in time or resources. There are so many problems to consider. How will you archive the recordings? Where will space be made for thousands of cassette tapes, the inexpensive recording method mentioned in the article? Once this new level of documentation is available, will we open ourselves to lawsuits if these records aren't carefully maintained? Cassette tapes are easily damagable by magnetic fields.

Suppose we instead decide on more recent technologies for recording. We have the possibility of computer glitches damaging records, accidental erasure, etc. Not to mention the extra expense of the recording equipment.

We ought to be able to rely on meeting minutes as we always have. They don't require any extra systems, staff, or storage than we are already using. Let's not put the extra burden on local governments just for the sake of "public perception". If a private citizen or a participant in the meetings chooses to record the meetings for their own purposes, more power to them. It may turn out to be a blessing. But let's not make it an obligation.


Anonymous said...

Regarding "public perceptions". In 1971 the rules of punctuation were modified to dictate that the period is always placed inside the quotation mark... regardless! Let's get on the stick!

Bradley Ross said...

I am on a personal mission to change that silly rule. If the period or question mark or other punctuation doesn't belong in the quote, why are we supposed to put it in there? Now you know my secret purpose in starting this blog! < maniacal laughter >