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Council members say some may play to cameras

May 29, 2003|By SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown City Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said Wednesday his assumption that televising council meetings and work sessions would have an adverse effect on the meetings was incorrect.

Hendershot in January opposed televising the work sessions, where most deliberation occurs, saying he preferred that only the monthly voting sessions be televised.

Hendershot had expressed concern that some speakers, including council members, might be less open if all meetings were televised.

But the meetings have been televised since early April and Hendershot said he has seen no negative impact.

At the same time, Hendershot and others on the council said they have heard from city residents who say they have gained a better understanding of what work sessions and meetings are like as a result of watching the live broadcasts.

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Hendershot said he thinks that is a positive thing.

The main difference Hendershot and Mayor William M. Breichner report noticing is that the council comments section held at the end of each meeting and work session has become longer.

"In the comments section from time to time, all of us play to the camera. I don't know if that is all good or all bad," Hendershot said.

Councilwoman Penny May Nigh said she has not noticed any change at the meetings but conceded she sometimes makes remarks specifically for television viewers.

For example, when her grandson's John Deere tractor, valued at about $200, was stolen, she mentioned it during the meeting, asking anyone with information about the crime to call her, she said.

While she and the Hagerstown Police Department did not solve the crime, she said she liked the fact she had the option of using the airwaves to go directly to the people.

Hendershot said he tried to use the camera to his advantage at last week's meeting, asking viewers who were interested in volunteering for a proposed Hagerstown Disability Advisory Committee to call him at 301-766-9155. The committee would work in conjunction with the Washington County Disability Advisory Committee, he said.

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