I guess I’m as surprised as the Northwest Herald reporter was at the Gay Games when I wanted to take his picture.
He was unused to being the center of attention, apparently used to determining who got attention.
When I first asked whom I had to contact to take pictures at a county board meeting when the county cat tax was being considered, I was told it was Board Chairman Ken Koehler. And I would have to put it in writing.
Since the meeting about the county cat tax had already begun, I realized quickly there was no way to get permission that day, so I just skipped the meeting.
After all, the building inexplicably has deputy sheriffs standing guard (what are they protecting?) with signs saying they reserved the right to search any bags. I figured that meant camera bags, too.
Actually, I didn’t give the denial much thought until after I asked permission to take pictures of the members being sworn in yesterday and was turned down.
I wrote up a little story and then it occurred to me to call the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and see what Lisa Madigan’s expert on the subject had to say.
I did and discovered that anyone can take pictures at a public meeting because that’s what the Open Meetings Act says. (Click to enlarge Section 2.05 of the Open Meetings Act.)
So, I planned to attend Monday’s meeting with camera in hand.
But, because my car was in the shop getting its heating system fixed and I had to take my wife to one of her work places, I didn’t get to the county board’s meeting room until after the organizational meeting was completed.
In any event the “getting permission” aspect of taking pictures apparently piqued the interest of two area reporters, Chuck Keeshan of the Daily Herald and Kevin Craven of the Northwest Herald.
As I mentioned yesterday, on the way out of the meeting room, after I had taken photos, along with Don Peasley, of the newly constituted board and talked a bit about roads to member Dan Shea, I left for the county clerk’s office.
On the way out I was asked some questions and here’s what showed up in those two papers today.
From the Northwest Herald:
WOODSTOCK – Democrat James Kennedy got a seat on the McHenry County Board, John Jung got an aisle seat, and blogger Cal Skinner got his photographs....This was in the Daily Herald:
However, the former state legislator and Libertarian gubernatorial candidate came after the meeting adjourned and was allowed to photograph members.
Koehler said he interpreted Skinner’s request as that he would constantly be shooting pictures and would be a distraction.
Although state law protects taping and filming of government meetings, a 1975 Attorney General’s opinion on tape recording stated that it should not interfere with the meeting.
“He was asking, in my opinion, to be snapping pictures all through the meeting,” Koehler said. “That’s the impression that I got.”
Skinner said he likely will use the pictures of members with roll-call votes for controversial issues, such as the upcoming animal ordinance that could require annual registration for cats.
A possible showdown between Koehler and former state Rep. Cal Skinner Jr. over the latter wanting to photograph board members Monday never materialized. Koehler initially denied Skinner permission to take the photographs, which he wanted to post on his blog.Now, I don’t imagine the controlling majority of Huntley School District 158 likes the articles that I have written about its activities. Headlines like
When Skinner showed up at Monday’s meeting and began shooting photos, Koehler did nothing to stop him and later said he would allow photographers as long as they do not distract board members or interrupt proceedings.
But, as Northwest Herald reporter Tom Musik writes today, such a forensic audit began yesterday, so maybe McHenry County Blog played a small role in pointing this school district toward management that local taxpayers have every right to expect.
The Northwest Herald article has inspired still another article on the county cat tax, which will appear tomorrow.
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Posted first at McHenry County Blog, where the latest news is the demise of Concealed Carry, Inc.