Thursday, March 04, 2010

March 4, 2010 Morristown-Hamblen CFA (Citizens for Accountability) Tapes City Council Meetings (UPDATE: Video Clip Available)

UPDATE 3/6/10: If you take the local "news"paper, read the March 4 article by crime and city government reporter Bob Moore describing Charles Cook's remarks to council about council's resolution to ban "certain lights" on cameras at council meetings. Look at Bob's choice of words ("invective" "blurting" "interrupted" "angry") in describing Cook and his comments. Now click here to link to the Citizens for Accountability video of Cook's full comments and Jinks' reactions. Cook's comments were delivered calmly and without raising his voice. It would be a real stretch to say the comments were part of an "invective" or that Cook appeared "angry." Further, it is clear that it was Jinks who "interrupted" Cook after Cook mentioned that the lady who taped the February 16 meeting had twice tried to apologize to Jinks after the meeting but Jinks refused to talk to her or to accept her apologies.

Morristown-Hamblen CFA (Citizens for Accountability) has been taping City Council and City Finance Committee meetings for many months now. On Tuesday, March 2, the City Council passed a resolution  banning "certain lights" on cameras at City Council meetings. At least one of the "certain lights" that the City is banning is apparently the light on a camera used by Morristown Hamblen Citizens for Accountability-- a very small light that came on by accident during the taping of the February 16 meeting and that the operator did not know how to turn off.

MHCFA's website is here.  Charles Cook, one of the founders of CFA, was present on March 2 and taping the meeting when the Council voted to ban "certain lights" on cameras. 

Cook addressed the Mayor and Council before the vote on Tuesday. He also wrote an interesting article at the CFA site. Click here to see Charles' article. CFA has been taping council and Finance Committee meetings for many months. For the first time, a small light on the camera being used to tape the council's February 16 meeting came on during the taping. This had never happened before and was not intentional. Claude Jinks complained about the light, and the woman taping the meeting immediately apologized and moved to another side of the room.  The camera operator did not know what had caused a light to come one and could not see the light because it was so small and at the front of the hand-held camera.

After the meeting was over, the camera operator again went up to Mr. Jinks to apologize for the mistake and to assure him that it would be corrected and would not happen again. Mr. Jinks would not accept her apology or talk to her. He just turned and walked off.

The Mayor and Morristown City Council have been asked repeatedly and have refused consistently to tape their meetings and air them on the city's government-education channel that is provided for that very purpose. The Council would love to pass an outright ban on all cameras, but Councilmembers know that they can not do that. So the next best way to show their displeasure and get in a dig at those who are taping the meetings is to draft a formal resolution banning a "certain light" on cameras used to tape the meetings.

Maybe at their next meeting on March 16, the Mayor and Council will consider passing a really important resolution such as one that would "ban Council from sitting around while the City's finances collapse." Oh wait, no need for that resolution. The City's finances are already in a shambles, and the city's sewer system is a multi-million dollar train wreck. And on top of that the Mayor and Council only recently found out about this at least three-year-old mess. Click here.

Yep, it's much more important to spend time drafting resolutions banning "certain lights" on cameras! And it's much more important to make a mess in front of the City Center with a fenced enclosure for "bad signs."


TimN said...

It appears the city council wants to copy Congress and would prefer to do their job in the dark and behind closed doors.

Keep shining the light of truth on these people.

Linda said...


You have hit the nail on the head.

The Mayor and Councilmembers would like to avoid the public and cameras altogether.

The real discussion of public business takes place in Finance Committee meetings and now work sessions that are held in the Mayor's Conference Room--a teeny room with a table that seats about 10 people.

By using the teeny conference room, taxpayers and city staff and even city consultants (Lamar Dunn, McGill & Associates, etc.) have to stand around the room or in the doorways or in the hall just outside the conference room while speaking to the council or while trying to hear what's going on.

Why meet in a teeny conference room when a spacious chamber with ample seating for the public is right next to it?

The reason is obvious.

They want to be able to say it was a "public meeting" while ensuring that the "public meeting" is held in a small cramped room where there are only a few seats available for the public or anyone else.