It is just fascinating the interest that reporters have in the irritation of certain McHenry County Board members with my having taken their pictures during the McHenry County Republican Cat Tax meeting.
Actually, it’s probably not my irritating the county board that they find of interest. It’s the resulting restrictions on the First Amendment that might affect their profession.
I was trying to get decent head shots of each of the board members in their dimly lit, windowless meeting room.
Apparently the Nikon Rebel flash attachment automatically popped up when the internal light meter indicated the room was too dark to take a decent photo. I kept taking pictures until County Board Chairman Ken Koehler asked me to stop.
The Northwest Herald’s Kevin Craver wrote that I was doing so for less than a minute, although I have no idea how long it was.
At Koehler’s request, I immediately stopped taking pictures, sat down, and started doing something much more dangerous—taking notes of the debate.
Or, as Chuck Keeshan of the Daily Herald put it Monday, also in a front page article,
Skinner began taking photos of board members as they worked through their agenda, prompting Chairman Ken Koehler to tell him to stop. Skinner did so immediately and has not returned. Now board members are taking steps to ensure that if he does come back, he’ll do so without his flash.
Sunday, the Northwest Herald ran Craver’s front page story about our county board members’ intention to banish me to the back of the room if I wanted to take pictures and to prohibit me from using a flash bulb at all in the dimly lit room. PHOTO
Of course, the rules would apply to everyone, but the thrust of the rule change is obviously and admittedly me.
As Dan Shea told Keeshan,
“This is primarily being criticized by people who don’t have to sit through 15 flashes a minute and don’t understand how disruptive that is. There are things that can be done, and things that can be overdone.”
“It’s like the kid in school that spoils something for the entire class,” added board member Tina Hill.
Barb Wheeler, for example, is quoted in Keeshan’s story as saying,
“To change a rule because of one man’s actions on one day is ridiculous.”
And, Don Craven, Illinois Press Association attorney had a similar view he shared with Craver:
“I don’t have a problem with a rule outlawing or prohibiting successive, multiple flash photos. But they’re throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
Besides stopping immediately when requested, I offered this comment to Keeshan:
“I was a public official for 20 years. It’s part of the role of a public official to sometimes cope with things you don’t find entirely comfortable.
“It’s unreasonable and discriminatory. Obviously some of our local governments think the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act are not law.”