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updated: 11/20/2012 10:03 PM

Library district says no to videotaping meetings

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  • Ron Friedman

      Ron Friedman

 
 

Warren-Newport Public Library District board member Ron Friedman fell short in trying to convince his elected colleagues that videotaping meetings would lead to greater transparency.

Board members at the Gurnee-based library district Tuesday night voted 5-2 against video recording meetings and running them on local public-access cable television or on the agency's website.

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Friedman, elected to a six-year library term in 2009, caused a stir among his colleagues earlier this year when he set up his equipment to video record a meeting in April.

In making a presentation on the benefits of having taped meetings available to the public, Friedman said it's a library's mission to serve patrons with all forms of media and be repositories of knowledge. He said video would offer something not seen in meeting minutes or agendas.

"As a chief paragon of disseminating information, why would we not want our constituents to be aware of what the library board decides with their money?" Friedman said. "We know that the attendance here is very infrequent and few by the constituents of this district, but that should not mean we should not make available an easier way to access the information."

Trustee Andrea Farr Capizzi said the library has better uses for what she estimated would be an $1,100 yearly expense for an employee to handle the video duties. However, Friedman countered that a library volunteer could be sought to alleviate cost concerns.

Warren-Newport Executive Director Stephen Bero recommended against videotaping board meetings, saying the district already is a "model of transparency" with documents it posts online. He said no nearby library districts record board meetings.

"In my tenure here, I have never received any complaint about our library district's lack of transparency or failure to provide information when asked, Bero said in a memo to the board.

Board President Laurie Styrcula said she doesn't see how not recording board meetings makes the officials less transparent. She previously criticized Friedman when he placed a camera on a tripod to record an April meeting.

Friedman responded at the time he had every right to tape the library board meetings and wanted recordings available as a public service to taxpayers

He also has brought his camera to Lake County Housing Authority board meetings. Friedman has voiced concern about the agency's fiscal management and procedures not being followed.

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