An reporter acquaintance of mine from the Twin Cities commended me for my recent column in the Reader. Later he told me of the obstacles the Columbia Heights School District placed in his way to cover their meetings. We’ve been communicating since the early days of the Red Plan. He thought the tidbit about the Tribune ending its regular coverage of the Duluth School District was funny. I presume as in funny odd.
He has dug into his pocket to the tune of $200.00 to ask for an opinion to slap the District’s hands. He explained:
On at least two previous occasions, the time they would unlock the doors for free entrance to the building was at 5:30. This was a little painful because a school board meeting might start at 5:30, although they usually start at 6:00. I was able to get into those 5:30 meetings, but the doors would not unlock until precisely 5:30 – and then you had no time to get there a few minutes early to sit down in the meeting room. If the school board chair was running late and they didn’t start precisely at 5:30, then the extra time was yours. I never missed anything because of this 5:30 unlocking time but it’s inconvenient in a way, to be rushing in. (If I ever had to video tape the meeting at 5:30, I would never have had the time needed to set up equipment before showtime – I would need a minimum of 30 min. to do that)
But on this last Tues night, they told me the unlocking of the doors was now at 6:00 pm. I said how the hell are you going to do that when the meeting starts at 5:30 and the public needs to get in?
Furthermore, the reporter was told he had to surrender his driver’s licence to the District if he wanted to enter the building before 6PM. In addition they do not show their meetings live and hold the right to edit community comments out of the video when it plays afterward.