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County planners propose 'open records' restriction

Published: 11:06 AM, 07/25/2013 Last updated: 11:07 AM, 07/25/2013
 

Author: Nelson Morais
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

NEWPORT-The Cocke County Regional Planning Commission approved a motion Tuesday,  asking the County Legislative Body to exclude citizens' access to tape recordings of planning commission meetings, and all other countywide agency public meetings, such as those of committees and commissions.

However, Tennessee Press Association attorney Rick Hollow stated flatly on Wednesday, July 24, of the county planners' proposal, "they're wrong" to deny any Tennessee citizen access to the audio recordings.

Hollow said such action, if taken, would violate the Open Meetings Law and the Public Records Act.

Typically, a secretary at each public meeting takes notes, and/or uses a tape, to then draft minutes of the meeting, which are approved at the next meeting by agency officials. That is how the county planners normally conduct business.

Said Hollow,  "If the secretary uses the audio tapes to prepare the minutes, then the audio tapes provide a record" that must be made available to any Tennessee citizen.

"Those tapes are not our official minutes, but (for) reference points only," said Commissioner Lee Willis at the planners' meeting. Willis proposed the motion at the meeting on Tuesday.

For more details, please see the Thursday edition of the Newport Plain Talk.

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