County Council embarrassed by its own own words which failed to prevent Bob Weiner to record and broadcast video of county public meetings - The News Journal
NCCo Council meeting recorded for the 1st time by Councilman Weiner
By Adam Taylor, The News Journal, March 12, 2014
A videographer hired with a New Castle County councilman’s campaign money recorded Tuesday night’s meeting from the press table on the council floor.
Councilman Bob Weiner said he hired the photographer to protest the delay of his proposals to have council hire a videographer to record the meetings have experienced.
About an hour before the meeting, Council President Chris Bullock said he would not allow the videographer to shoot the meeting from the press table because it’s on the council floor and he would be plugging the camera into an outlet there.
“There are too many unanswered questions about a person who is paid with campaign funds being on the floor of council and plugging into equipment paid for by the taxpayers,” Bullock said. “It’s never been done before and it’s not the past practice of this council.”
But once the meeting began at 6:30 p.m., the videographer Weiner hired, Brian Windle from O.K. Video, was allowed to record the entire meeting. Bullock said afterward he was told by Carol Dulin, the council’s staff attorney, there was no rule against Windle recording the session.
Bullock said he thought that only someone hired by a council member could plug into an outlet and record the meeting from the council floor. He said he didn’t think an opponent of a council member could hire someone to do the same thing. The council staff will continue to research the matter.
“It’s a gray area,” Bullock said.
Weiner said his research has shown that “there is no such thing as ‘the press’ ” and anyone should be able to plug cameras into outlets on the council floor and record the meetings.
Some council members weren’t happy about the videographer hired with campaign funds being on the council floor.
“On the surface, I think this practice could lead to problems,” Councilman Jea Street said.
“I don’t think I would be comfortable using my campaign funds to do this,” Councilwoman Lisa Diller said.
Weiner has been trying to get council to hire a videographer for months. But proposals have not come to a vote because some council members think they lack concrete cost estimates. Some members also are offended by Weiner’s multiple emails to the council and the public accusing his colleagues of being against open government for allegedly stalling the approval.
At a Tuesday afternoon committee meeting, Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick proposed soliciting estimates from vendors to record the meetings. The measure passed by an 8-0 vote.
“I’m tired of being bullied” by Weiner, Kilpatrick said. “We’re having our characters assassinated. We just need to put an end to it.”
*Friends of Bob Weiner note: Councilman Janet Kilpatrick is referring to her own comment: “I am OK with Councilman Weiner videotaping us, but I am shocked that he proposes to place it on the internet where the entire world can see us.”
Weiner said his proposals are better than Kilpatrick’s because they are more detailed, and he denied misrepresenting his colleagues’ views on the issue. But he said he views Kilpatrick’s proposal as a victory.
“I think out of the box and champion ideas, but my council colleagues won’t pass them unless someone else sponsors them and brings them to the floor,” Weiner said.
Weiner said he still will try to move his bills and get them passed, but Bullock said Kilpatrick’s proposal might have a better chance of getting approved because Weiner has alienated his 12 colleagues.
“I think we’re all in favor of having the meetings recorded, but Councilman Weiner has publicly misstated our positions, and that has caused much consternation among council members,” Bullock said.
*Friends of Bob Weiner note: Council President Christopher Bullock is referring to his own comment: “ I am opposed to making video available to the public because it will encourage some Councilmembers to pontificate.
Contact Adam Taylor at (302) 324-2787or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re having our characters assassinated.”
COUNCILWOMAN JANET KILPATRICK
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