Greenville council sets restrictions on use of recording devices
By Monica Pryts
Herald Staff Writer
GREENVILLE � Greenville council Tuesday passed a resolution outlining rules about the use of recording devices during meetings.
Council unanimously approved the resolution without discussion after council President Pete Longiotti said council recognizes the right of anyone who wishes to record meetings. The resolution is meant to establish rules, which Longiotti did not review during the meeting.
The Herald asked for and received a copy of the resolution after the meeting. Longiotti then said the issue was brought to council�s attention several times by people who were concerned their private conversations were being recorded.
He said the resolution was prompted by an incident during council�s May 3 work session where borough solicitor Joe Joseph noticed a reporter from the Record-Argus newspaper pull out a tape recorder.
Joseph asked her if it was turned on and she said it wasn�t, to which Joseph said if it was, he would have had her escorted to jail for violating wiretapping laws.
A section of Pennsylvania�s Sunshine Act says �a person attending a meeting of an agency shall have the right to use recording devices to record all the proceedings. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the agency from adopting and enforcing reasonable rules for their use under section 710 (relating to rules and regulations for conduct of meetings).�
Longiotti said the resolution was drafted from a sample resolution provided by the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs. Council members tailored it to what they thought was appropriate.
The resolution says recording devices include tape recorders, video and TV cameras, microphones, cameras, wireless telephones and other similar mechanical or electronic devices.
At the beginning of a meeting, the council president will ask that anyone wishing to use a recording device identify themselves and describe the device they are using. That person must then acknowledge they will abide by the rules outlined in the resolution.
No recording device may be operated while concealed or plugged into a municipal outlet. Any device that makes a distracting sound is not allowed. Devices shall be positioned only in a location designated by council that doesn�t distract or block the view of audience members.
Anyone using a recording device shall remain in a single location during the meeting and won�t be allowed to move about in order to videotape, tape record, take photos or otherwise record while the meeting is in progress.
Devices can�t be used before a meeting is called to order, while a meeting is in recess or after a meeting has been adjourned. Recording devices can�t be used to record private conversations between audience members, officials or others whose comments or questions are made privately and not for public consumption.
Anyone who violates the resolution could be removed from the meeting where the violation occurred and their recording device will be confiscated for the duration of the meeting.