Weiner's move was met with opposition over control and council approval, not openness or clarity
A move by a New Castle County council member to video record an entire council session was met with such overwhelming opposition that the offer was withdrawn.
At the executive committee meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11, Councilman Bob Weiner, 2nd District, announced that he would be footing the bill to record that evening's New Castle County Council meeting.
Weiner's announcement comes a week after he used $150 from the "Friends of Bob Weiner" PAC coffers to pay OK Video of Wilmington to video record the Tuesday, Feb. 4 technology committee meeting.
That meeting was then uploaded to a YouTube account registered to "Friends of Bob Weiner." The 48-minute video has received 122 views as of Feb. 11, according to the on-page statistic.
Shortly after announcing his intensions this week, however, several council members protested the move.
Councilman George Smiley, 7th District, said he was opposed to exploring an avenue that council has not yet made a decision on.
He added that he also had concerns with funds from a politically aligned organization going towards filming a council meeting.
Councilwoman Lisa Diller, 5th District, said she appreciated Weiner's efforts, but that "pushing the envelope" without consensus from his colleagues was not the best way to proceed.
"At this point, council has not as a whole said that they are for this," Diller said. "Bringing this to people now, two hours before the meeting – it feels like we're being pushed."
Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick, 3rd District, said that she believed the original discussion revolved around a live stream as opposed to a link to a video posted after the fact.
She also said that she didn't like that the technology meeting video was posted on YouTube, to a "worldwide" audience.
Weiner said his decision to pay out of pocket for his meeting video "beta test" was because dedicated seed money from council for such a project did not exist.
He also said that recording the meeting was a constitutional right, and that "anyone can come with their smartphone and video all or part of" any public meeting.
Weiner had originally planned to introduce a proposal to have all council meetings video recorded and made available online at the January council session. He ultimately withdrew the proposal in order to develop a financial impact statement.
"It just seemed as if there were a lot of impediments being put into the opportunity for us to evaluate this, and I wanted to remove the impediment of funding," Weiner said.
Weiner said he plans to distribute DVD copies of the technology meeting video to his fellow council members to give them an idea of what subsequent videos would look like.
Weiner withdrew his offer "under protest" and said he would consult with his personal legal counsel as to whether or not there was a moral or legal conflict in using "Friends of Bob Weiner" funds to pay for the video recording.