A rookie Port Hueneme councilwoman said she has learned a lesson after a longtime council member blasted her efforts to bring the city's meetings to cable television.
With the lens of an Oxnard College student's camera trained on the board Wednesday evening, Councilwoman Toni Young sat quietly as Councilman Dorill B. Wright read from a prepared statement expressing his alarm at Young's "unilateral" efforts to bring TV cameras into the council chambers.
"In all my years of public service, I have never before experienced a situation where one member of the policy-making body goes about unilaterally setting policy for that body," Wright said. "The City Council should not allow this improper policy-setting procedure to become a precedent."
Wright, along with Mayor Orvene Carpenter and Councilman Jim Daniels, had criticized Young for inviting cameras into the council chambers April 21. That meeting was shown on Jones Intercable's Channel 19 on April 24 and 25.
Wright raised questions about liabilities and costs that might result from having cameras in council chambers, and he asked city staff to prepare a report on the matter for the next meeting.
Young, who has been working with several Port Hueneme residents to get the meetings aired on public-access television, broke her silence Wednesday night to second Wright's motion.
After the meeting, Young said she had no qualms about her efforts, because City Manager Dick Velthoen had told her the meetings could be taped. But she said she agreed with the concept of Wright's motion, adding that she would get a second opinion about similar cases in the future.
"I'm learning, and the community is winning because they are getting televised meetings," she said. "I had been saying for weeks, 'Let's put it on the agenda.' I was told by city staff there was no need to have council approval, that there was a First Amendment right" to tape the meetings.