It isn't about the "sides". It's about getting it right.
Interested Party authored a Blog post entitled, "Walter Cruz --The Quiet Man Speaks Up", regarding the way Selectman Cruz conducted the April 12th BOS meeting.
For some reason comments are not allowed under the Blog, so I thought I would discuss it here.
Interested Party wrote:
And, Mr. Cruz knew his stuff. When a photographer disrupted the meeting, Mr. Cruz accurately recited the requirement that photographers first need to obtain the Board's approval before snapping away. At which point, the photographer grumbled something and left the meeting.
You would think that with the experience that this town has with Open Meeting Violations, that all selectmen (new and old) would be experts in the OML by now.
I'm sorry, but Mr. Cruz, and Mr. Schneider, were in error when it comes to what Massachusetts Open Meeting Law speaks to the use audio/visual media during public meetings.
The photographer, whoever he or she may be, absolutely has the right to take pictures of a public meeting without the permission of the Chair as long as they are not disruptive in doing so.
The photographer does need to INFORM the Chair, but that is much different than requesting and receiving permission.
Quoting directly from the publication entitled, "Open Meeting Law Guide - July 2010"
What public participation in meetings must be allowed?
Under the Open Meeting Law, the public is permitted to attend meetings of public bodies but is excluded from an executive session that is called for a valid purpose listed in the law. Any member of the public also has a right to make an audio or video recording of an open session of a public meeting. A member of the public who wishes to record a meeting must first notify the chair and must comply with reasonable requirements regarding audio or video equipment established by the chair so as not to interfere with the meeting. The chair is required to inform other attendees of such recording at the beginning of the meeting.
Source: Office of the Attorney General (Martha Coakley).
This document is found at the top of the "Wareham Boards & Commissions" page of the town's website.
Thank you for your time.