The Lebec County Water District June 11, 2013 meeting which was ended by board president Julie McWhorter after a reporter took a flash photograph. [Video by Patric Hedlund]
The Lebec County Water District May 14, 2013 meeting which was ended by board president Julie McWhorter after a reporter took a flash photograph. McWhorter then cleared the public meeting room and convened another meeting, allowing everyone into the public meeting room except two photographers. The door to the public meeting room was then locked. This video was provided courtesy of Gunnar Kuepper.
FRAZIER PARK, CA (Monday, June 24, 2013 at 5:55 p.m.)—The Mountain Enterprise has released video of the earlier Lebec County Water District meeting on May 14, 2013 at which LCWD board president shut down the district’s public meeting because a photographer took a flash photograph. McWhorter cleared the public meeting room then allowed selected members of the public back inside the meeting room before the door to the public meeting room was locked. Blocked from attending the public meeting were two photographers, one from The Mountain Enterprise. The video of the May 14 meeting was provided courtesy of Gunnar Kuepper.
FRAZIER PARK, CA (Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.)—The Mountain Enterprise has released its video of the Lebec County Water District’s June 11, 2013 meeting at which LCWD board president Julie McWhorter stopped the district’s public meeting under a misconstrued interpretation of California Government Code Section 54953.6.
McWhorter claims that this section permits her to prohibit the public’s legal right to photograph with illumination in a public meeting. In fact, section 54953.6 explicitly states that “No legislative body of a local agency shall prohibit or otherwise restrict” the photographing of its public meetings unless the photography causes so much noise, illumination or obstruction of view that it “would constitute a persistent disruption of the proceedings.” The Mountain Enterprise does not disrupt meetings in the course of its reporting.
The Brown Act explicitly states in section 54953.5 (a): “Any person attending an open and public meeting of a legislative body of a local agency shall have the right to record the proceedings with an audio or video tape recorder or a still or motion picture camera.” The only way to remove the public’s right under the law would be for the photography to create so much disturbance to the meeting that it causes a persistent disruption, which does not occur when The Mountain Enterprise takes its photographs using flash.
The June 11 video begins with McWhorter reading into the record the district’s actions at its May 14, 2013 meeting, during which McWhorter again violated public meeting laws by conducting a public meeting behind a locked door so members of the local press and anyone else who may have attempted to attend the public meeting could not attend.
This is part of the June 14, 2013 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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