Open Government Specialist Advises Councilors

By WKTV News

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Common councilors and members of the community gathered at Utica City Hall Wednesday to hear more about open government. The topic has recently come into question regarding one common councilor's video camera in meetings.

First District Councilor Frank Vescera was recently asked to stop video taping the common council meetings with his hand-held camcorder. The issue brought a debate between he and other councilors, Vescera arguing it's transparency.

Wednesday Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the New York's Open Government Committee came to speak to council members. He said Councilor Vescera can have the camera, but that he has to follow the same rules as everyone else.

"I said this I don't know how many times throughout the evening, if the rule authorized a particular location and the camera can reasonably pick up site and sound why not put your camera in that designated location?" said Freeman. "Seems to me everyone has to live by rules even council members."

Councilor Vescera has been placing the camera on the table, not on a tripod showing the whole room.

He was censured two weeks ago by the common council and removed from all committees in a 5 to 3 vote. Vescera says he will continue to attend the meetings as he has in the past.

"It needs to be made clear that my removal from Council Committee positions by the actions of 7 council members including: Giruzzi, Marino, Mc Kinsey, Colosimo-Testa, Meola, Bucciero & President Morehouse, in no way prevents me from attending these Committee Meetings," said Vescera. "In no way prevents me from representing the 1st Ward and in no way prevents me from voting on any Council Legislation."

Vescera says he has been recording meetings since the mid '90's.

The Open Government Specialist Robert Freeman added if the public doesn't like the way a councilor is working, they have a chance to weigh in on Election Day.

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