"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"

"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"
aka "Miss Victory"

Sunday, September 23, 2007


by Paul Wheeler

Citizens who visited the City-County Council meetings this summer got a surprise civic lesson and one that violated their rights. Unless you are an employee with a ‘pass’ badge that sidesteps the checkpoint metal detector & doggie bowl routine, the public must temporarily empty their pockets and remember not to carry any electronic equipment. No problem, you say, but I’m just going to the assembly hall for a public meeting; not to a jury trial or into a courtroom where the Indiana Supreme Court outlawed such things. I’m just going to sit in on the Council meeting on the 2nd floor. Too bad; cameras are not allowed; you just obey the officer like a good citizen, deposit your stuff into your vehicle and return, walk to the second floor, and plop down.

Why is there a guy with a cell phone camera taking pictures there if I can’t. According to The Indianapolis Star article by Brendan O’Shaughnessy (9-20-07), this individual is a democratic supporter (editor's note: Wilson T. Allen, employed by the Carson Machine) who wanted to take a picture of a city-council member, despite the fact that I saw him pointing it at the audience as well. He can do this but I can’t? And just as fundamental are citizens’ rights of access to public meetings with recording devices as specifically allowed under the Open Door Indiana Statute IC 5-14-1.5-3 Sec.3 (a)”.all meetings of the governing bodies of public agencies must be open at all times for the purpose of permitting members of the public to observe and record them.”. But wait, what about this 4 page itemized list obtained from room 101, everything from ‘tweezers’ to ‘cameras’ prohibited at the “entrances to this building”. Whoops! How did this happen? The story goes in 1999; pre 9-11, an administrative regulation was effected due to boom box phobia. Unfortunately, not even the airlines, post 9-11, have a prohibition against cell phones or cameras as carry-on items.

Informing us that sometime in the future steps will be taken to parallel security compliance similar to the airlines, does not take the sting from citizen’s trampled rights; rights afforded to them through state law.

A couple of recommendations: adjust the wording of their prohibition from ‘check points established at the entrances to this building’, to ‘entrances to a courtroom’ and have these security points re-established at those areas. There is plenty of room for ground level airport type half-lockers to be installed for temporarily storing items while visiting. Finally, have an administrative judge immediately lift this illegal regulation before the hot button words ‘discrimination’, ‘favoritism’ result in a legal battle the city most certainly would loose as a violation of state law. A user friendly city-county building would do little to ease the damage done to citizens this summer, but would afford the perception that we could at least have city employees, including security personnel, that value and uphold the law of openness which our citizenry demands.

1 comment:

Bart Lies said...

It's worth noting the in-question camera at the CCC last MOnday was NOT a simple cellphone camera that can be tucked away in a pocket.

It was a full-blown digital SLR hanging from a neckstrap, with an outboard flash attached to the top of it.

Diff'rent strokes for connected folks.