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4/29/2009
Councilman Weiner votes for open government measure; but Council majority votes it down - Community News

NCCo Council shuts door on open government measure

Community News
Posted Apr 29, 2009 @ 11:16 AM
Wilmington, Del. —

A proposal by one New Castle County Council member to post audio recordings of council meetings on the county Web site was voted down Tuesday, April 28.

Councilman David Tackett (D-Christiana), who sponsored the legislation, said he wanted to make the recordings available on the council's Web page in the spirit of being "open, accessible and accountable" to constituents.

Opponents, however, said having the recordings readily available could allow critics and political rivals to target them by taking their comments out of context.

Audio recordings of the bi-monthly county meetings will remain available via Freedom of Information Act request, as they are currently.

Requiring residents to fill out the FOIA form allows council to keep a record of who has requested recordings, said Council President Paul Clark, one of seven members who voted against the resolution.

He also said it could discourage public participation in county government.

"There's a time and a place where people have to participate in their government and get off their couch and come on out," he said.

Councilman George Smiley (D-New Castle) said he feared bloggers and other observers who don't routinely attend meetings would anonymously use the audio clips to criticize council members.

"The Internet is the greatest thing in the world to find information, but every day someone's reputation is destroyed using it," Smiley said.

Councilman Penrose Hollins (D-Wilmington North) said opponents of the workforce housing legislation he spearheaded routinely harassed him last year and that providing audio recordings would only encourage more of that behavior.

Tackett disagreed.

"All of the information is available now," he said. "It's just a way to fulfill our oath of office to be accessible."

Tackett said it can be inconvenient for some residents to come into the city on a week night and pay for parking when they could listen to a recording of the proceedings from home.


THE VOTE
Yes (5): Cartier, Diller, Tackett, Tansey, Weiner
No (7): Bell, Clark, Hollins, Powers, Sheldon, Smiley, Street
Absent (1): Reda

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"Iíd like to express my appreciation to Councilman Bob Weiner who exhibits strength, determination and fortitude and is always on the side of the people. I followed Bobís actions when he was head of CCOBH's zoning committee and made strong efforts to try to stop the Brandywine Town Center construction. He has continued with energy and zeal in many pivotal positions in spite of enduring a lot of negative professional and personal attacks. I appreciate that he is never deterred."

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