Light board delays vote on recording meetings

WESTFIELD- The Municipal Light Board (MLB) Jan. 22 delayed their vote on whether to conduct video recordings or live streams of their meetings due to absence of commissioners Kevin Kelleher and Francis Liptak.

There did not seem to be a consensus among the present commissioners for whether they should go with video recording or live streaming their meetings. Each option would be subject to different laws concerning how long the recording must be saved and where it can be accessed. 

Commissioner Ray Rivera suggested that the meetings be recorded and that the tape be saved for the period of time between each meeting, after which it would be replaced with the tape of the following meeting. 

Commission Chair Robert Sacco said that he had learned recently that the retention policy for a recorded meeting would be far longer than the month-long retention suggested by Rivera.  He added that he learned that the MLB already has bylaws in place that require that the meetings be recorded. 

The Commissioners agreed to look over a draft of the bylaws edited by Sacco in the next two weeks and make their own suggestions as well. On Feb. 5, the MLB will vote to begin recording or streaming the meetings and will vote to change the bylaws in accordance. 

“With Kevin and Fran not here, and with this policy language, I think it would be fair to those two to put it off until Feb. 5,” said Sacco. 

The MLB has been conducting test recordings of their meetings for several months now, but only for the purpose to test the equipment needed and to later pen the meeting minutes.

Commissioner Tom Flaherty suggested that, if they choose to record rather than stream, the video be saved for six months in a place where it is readily available, after which it would be moved to an archive where it would have to be specifically requested. 

Sacco also noted that there are technicalities with how they have to handle executive session meetings. He wrote the draft policy to say that the executive session itself would not be recorded, but any vote that takes place relating to the session would be.

One aspect the MLB must also figure out is how to handle the recording or streaming of sub-committee meetings. 

The present Commissioners all agreed to hold the Feb. 5 meeting one hour early at 6 p.m. in order to have enough time to go over the changes to the bylaws as well as the vote to record or stream the meetings.

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