Here’s one more reason I’m glad not to have to support Mike Huether for public office in 2018. In vetoing a requirement to record public meetings of unelected city boards and commissions, the Sioux Falls mayor demonstrates his misunderstanding of logic, transparency, and citizen participation:
Before his veto announcement, Huether called such recording a slippery slope, in part, because it will discourage citizen involvement:
“We already have challenges right now when it comes to getting people to volunteer for some of these committees. We are really struggling. We have over 40 committees,” Huether tells KELO Radio’s Greg Belfrage Show [Mark Russo, “Huether: Don’t Roll the Videotape,” KELO Radio, 2017.01.24].
Slippery slope? Really, Mike? (Listen to 14:10 in the KELO audio of Huether’s Tuesday interview.) Down what grim slope do we slip by expanding official video documentation of public meetings? And how have you not yet gotten the memo that “slippery slope” is usually a logical fallacy?
Mayor Huether thinks recording deters openness. “If you want to really quell the dialogue or diminish it or make it less open or real, film it. Just film it. It quiets everybody down pretty quickly, and ultimately you’re not going to get the best results,” said Mayor Huether quite freely on live radio, broadcast to thousands of listeners and recorded for global distribution online (see timestamp 16:00).
If Mayor Huether is having trouble recruiting citizens to serve on public boards, he should record more meetings, not fewer. Post complete official videos of public boards doing their job, and more people will be able to see what happens in those meetings, get a feel for the issues and the process, and get interested in serving.
Mayor Huether also doesn’t think much of citizens who exercise their legal right and duty to keep an eye on their government:
…Mayor Huether says unelected members of these committees could also wind up being embarrassed by potential tinkering on the internet.
“They’ll take snippets of a video that either they’ve taken or that somebody else has taken and then they create these other things are Facebook or on blogs or whatever,” warns Huether [Russo, 2017.01.24].
Blogs or whatever? I guess I know where Messrs. Ehrisman and Danielson and I stand in Mayor Huether’s esteem.
Whatever Mayor Huether thinks of blogs and social media, he apparently holds in low regard SDCL 1-25-11, the statute passed last year with almost no dissent that says, “No state, political subdivision, or public body may prevent a person from recording, through audio or video technology, a public meeting that is open to the public as long as the recording is reasonable, obvious, and not disruptive.” If Mayor Huether won’t document public meetings, we citizens retain the right to do it ourselves.
And if he really thinks hordes of online hoaxsters will devote their time to splicing together gag reels of Sioux Falls Parks and Rec, then it only makes more sense for him to put his own camera in the meeting room, record, and post the proceedings on YouTube, saying, “Look, folks! Here’s the official video of what really happened.”
Those of us in the blogosphere know that openness and documentation are good for democracy. Mayor Huether thinks otherwise. That’s another good reason for us South Dakotans to vote otherwise when Huether asks us to make him Governor or whatever in 2018.