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Easthampton City Council subcommittees to tape meetings 

The council took up the matter after some city boards took votes not use the Easthampton Community Access Television cameras installed in meeting rooms to record their meetings. The votes defied an October memo from Mayor Michael A. Tautznik urging committees to activate the cameras to increase the public’s access to city business. The recordings are broadcast on local cable channels and on ECAT’s website.

The City Council Dec. 19 directed its rules subcommittee to review a proposal from Councilor Daniel D. Rist to require council subcommittees to record their meetings, as the full council and the School Committee do, and also to discuss the issue of recording as it relates to all other city boards.

Following the subcommittee’s recommendation, the council voted 7-1 to require its subcommittees to record meetings because they are elected officials. The only dissenting vote was from Councilor Donald L. Cykowski, who said he doubts people watch the local cable access channel and added that citizens interested in city government should attend the meetings.

“That’s what we need, not a TV,” he said.

The council also followed the subcommittee’s recommendation that appointed boards should not be required to record meetings.

“We feel the volunteers on these committees need time to absorb the idea of being recorded,” said Rist, chairman of the subcommittee.

Robert Harrison and David Boyle, two longtime members of various city boards, left their positions in protest over the pressure to record meetings. Boyle said he resented the implication that boards had something to hide if they did not want to record, and Harrison said the cameras made members less comfortable and left them open to the chance of their words being misconstrued or used against them later.

The council discussed sending a memo to boards and committees recommending they use the cameras, but opted not to.

“The mayor has authority over other boards and committees in town and he has already sent a memo regarding his wishes that the boards and committees use the ECAT cameras if they are available,” Rist said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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