While disputed meeting minutes in August spurred Dewey Beach commissioners to move to record all meetings, a Feb. 9 vote, 3-2, authorized video and audio recording of meetings.
Mayor TJ Redefer recommended a policy to livestream all board of adjustment, planning and zoning, and commissioner meetings, and to audio record all committee meetings.
“This is an item I brought up through all the fun we had with the audit committee back in August and through November,” he said.
At the November audit committee meeting, former Chair Larry Silver produced Aug. 3 meeting minutes, which had been previously approved, that he had edited to state he had requested documents be returned during the meeting. Although Silver then admitted he requested the documents after the meeting adjourned, he insisted the minutes include his change; the revised minutes were adopted by a 2-1 vote.
Only the Lifesaving Station, where board and commissioner meetings take place, has livestreaming capability. Redefer said other meetings could be audio recorded.
Commissioner David Moskowitz said all meetings should be livestreamed because it can be difficult to identify speakers and votes in audio recordings.
“When you don’t have meetings public, people assume things happen,” he said. “You now have a private citizen videoing meetings and putting them on his website. Audit committee meetings are must-see events in the summer, unfortunately.”
Resident Gary Talley said the town has a public trust problem. He reminded Redefer, Moskowitz, and Commissioners Dale Cooke and Gary Persinger that they campaigned heavily on transparency and accountability.
“If you can’t make a simple decision like this, with a backbone ... you should step down,” Talley said.
Commissioner Paul Bauer said he would love to see all meetings videoed and livestreamed, but logistics are the issue. Bauer said in the summer, daytime meetings cannot be held at the Lifesaving Station because the lifeguards use the building.
Persinger agreed with Bauer, and said when meetings are audio recorded, attendees could identify themselves for clarity before speaking.
Redefer said he had been widely criticized by Moskowitz and watchdog group Dewey Citizens for Accountability for not livestreaming a Feb. 8 joint workshop between commissioners and the budget and finance committee, but he wanted a consistent policy in place first.
Cooke said the Lifesaving Station can still be easily used in the summer after 6 p.m., and said any meeting that includes commissioners, like the joint workshop, should be audio- and video-recorded.
Town Manager Scott Koenig said he viewed the workshop as a budget meeting commissioners were invited to, and said a policy regarding joint meetings or workshops was needed.
In what he called a compromise, Moskowitz motioned to video-record all meetings in the Lifesaving Station and to audio-record all meetings in the code enforcement building. The motion carried 3-2; Moskowitz, Cooke and Persinger voted for, and Redefer and Bauer voted against.
Bauer and Redefer said the approved motion did not include the word “livestream.”
“We don’t have to livestream anymore,” Redefer quipped. “This is great.”
Persinger said that was not what was meant; Moskowitz said he omitted the word because the motion stated video and recordings would be uploaded on the town website within five days.