UPDATE 9/7/2013: Someone evidently went down and paid for the two DVDs because the two council meetings in August have been uploaded to YouTube.com/TransparentLocalGov.
Since coming into office in April, Angela Pearson has been posting each city council meeting to YouTube. But that comes as no surprise, Pearson’s entire campaign was a call for transparency and accessibility. Having past council meetings available is a valuable resource for those who cannot attend the meeting as well as for those who do not have City Cable’s television service. According to Pearson, she would pick up the video two days after each meeting and then have it uploaded to YouTube.com.
But on Monday (Aug 26), Pearson posted on her Facebook page that she could no longer post videos of the City Council meetings because the City Manager, Doug Bagby, said he was going to start charging her $15 per video.
This is crazy. The city spends hundreds of dollars each city council meeting to air it live on City Cable. What in the world could be the problem in having staff copy the file to a DVD so a council member could upload to YouTube?
Pearson also posted the actual email she received from Bagby. In the email Bagby claimed, “I have been asked by council to recover our cost just as we would if any citizen requested a copy.”
First of all, Pearson is not just “any citizen” but a duly-elected representative of the City of Poplar Bluff and Bagby’s co-boss.
I could not think of anything on the agenda or discussion during the previous public meeting which would give Bagby the right to say that he’d been “asked by council.” And it certainly couldn’t have been discussed in the closed session because that type of information or decision is forbidden from closed session by the Missouri Sunshine Laws.
To find out more, I sent a sunshine request to the clerk’s office which included the following two requests as they pertained to Bagby’s email:
agenda from the meeting where the decision was made since Mr. Bagby states he was “asked by Council” to charge for the videos.
vote of the council’s decision regarding charging Angela Pearson “as if any citizen” made the request.
I received a response from the Deputy City Clerk, Lori Phelps. She stated “We have nothing available for [those two] items”.
This is priceless: Bagby not only gets caught trumping up phantom council decisions, he does so within 5 days of being on KFVS-TV saying: I don’t make these decisions, [council] does.
Am I the only one that thinks he’s got egg on his face?
After graduating from Mizzou with Computer and Electrical Engineering degrees in 1985, Brian Becker spent a decade singing Christian Rock and being a labeled artist with Benson Music Group of Nashville. In 1995, he and several investors started the area's first Internet Service called PBMO.net and by 2000 the company was serviing Internet access in over 50 communities throughout Southeast Missouri as SEMO.net. In July 2014, Becker again made a major pivot and became Publisher of the SEMO TIMES: a weekly print and daily online news and entertainment source for the region.