Nutley commission sets recording guidelines called “overreaching”

On 9/15, Nutley’s governing body adopted video recording guidelines meant for all township boards. We haven’t seen the new resolution yet, but the below article lists some criteria that look similar to prior provisions. The article also notes that a North Jersey Media Group attorney advised the township prior to the vote “that North Jersey took the position that the guidelines were not in compliance with the law and…, as drafted,…were overreaching.”    -NJFOG
 
September 22, 2015
By Hasime Kukaj
Staff Writer |
Nutley Sun
(Full article here and posted below.)
 

The Nutley Board of Commissioners adopted public video recording guidelines on Tuesday, Sept. 15, intended for all township boards.

Township Attorney Alan Genitempo said that all of the commissioners participated in drafting the resolution.

On Aug. 5, the planning board passed an oral resolution setting video recording guidelines for citizens. The resolution was similar to one that the Nutley Board of Adjustment passed in May. At the time, Genitempo said that the board of adjustment culled guidelines based on the state court system.

The resolution on Tuesday, Sept. 15, lists seven guidelines including no additional lighting or sound, recording devices should be placed in a designated location of the room, no action should be taken by the person responsible for the recording that might lead the public to believe that the recording is to be considered an official transcript of the meeting, the mayor/chairman have the right to cease recording if coverage becomes disruptive, the recording device shall not produce any sound, the device should be in place prior to the meeting and should not be moved around until after adjournment.

The last guideline states that “non-compliance with the guidelines at the discretion of the mayor/chairman or legal counsel could be grounds” for immediate cessation of the recording, the taking of legal action by the board and/or forfeiture of the opportunity to record future proceedings.

“Just so everyone knows, I actually sent this draft to one of the attorneys at North Jersey Media Group who sent me a letter, regarding their opinion on our previous policy,” Genitempo said. “Working with the attorney there, they basically agreed that our policy was reasonable and in conformance with the law.”

Genitempo told the board that he may make a couple “very, very minor typographical type changes” to the guidelines.

He added that guidelines would be posted on the wall and would be for distribution.

North Jersey Media Group attorney Patricia Moore stated that she spoke to Genitempo prior to the commission meeting and advised him that North Jersey took the position that the guidelines were not in compliance with the law and maintained that, as drafted, they were overreaching. Further, she stated that she suggested substantive changes to the guidelines.

Genitempo confirmed that he would review the changes, but said that they could not be made before the meeting, according to Moore.

“While I disagree with the statements Mr. Genitempo made at the meeting, I have spoken with him as recently as Friday, and we are working together to develop less restrictive and more reasonable guidelines to prevent disruption or interference with meetings which are in compliance with the law.”

Keeping order

Nutley Mayor Alphonse Petracco presented the resolution. He said that he did not want to discourage citizens from recording but wanted to “keep some order here.”

“We encourage people to come to meetings,” Petracco said, adding that the commissioners were available for questions about the policy.

Nutley Parks and Recreation Commissioner Mauro Tucci said that the guidelines were “just good old plain common sense.”

“People are entitled to film if they want to, but shouldn’t be interfering with other folks and infringing upon their private conversations and things of that nature,” Tucci said.

Nutley Public Works Commissioner Joseph Scarpelli said that the township did not want “any intimidation of witnesses at planning or zoning board meetings.”

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NJFOG previously reported on this topic in the following posts:
http://njfog.org/2015/08/07/nutley-planning-board-seeks-to-block-video-recording/
http://njfog.org/2015/08/31/part-ii-citizens-challenge-nutley-zoning-boards-video-recording-policy/