Testing the Memory of MCC Board President George Lowe

The Daily Herald seems to be the first newspaper to notice that their photographers’ First Amendment rights have been compromised by a ban on flash photography at McHenry County College Board meetings.

Since the Daily Herald rarely sends reporters to the meetings (I think the last time was by special invitation to the unannounced meeting about the baseball stadium), reporter Lenore Adkins discovered the ban by reading McHenry County Blog.

“Moreover, the board chairman now has the power to ‘limit an individual’s ability to photograph any portion of the board meeting’ if it interferes with the proceedings, leading local blogger Cal Skinner to question whether that’s a violation of the First Amendment,”

the article says.

Here’s what is in the resolution:

”In addition, the Board Chair may limit an individual’s ability to photograph any portion of the Board meeting if it is determined that the photography is interfering with the proceedings as they occur.”

It is hard for me to think of how taking non-flash pictures would interfere “with the proceedings as they occur.”

Maybe that means I couldn’t stand out in the hall and take flash pictures (like the one above) of the real estate folks who want to lease or sell land to the college beyond the 67-acre Gilger property (which is north and south of the road that runs from the MCC campus to Ridgefield Road), if caused Lowe to lose concentration on the top secret, hush hush activites going on inside the board room.

Lowe was in a white-hot fury when he issued this order after the meeting:

”There will be no flashes at the Monday Board meeting!

“You’ve been warned!”

Lowe then remembers my saying,

”Pass a resolution.”

Well, he’s close.

I said,

“You’ll have to pass a resolution.”

right after I took this non-flash picture of the map on the plasma screen in front of which Lowe was walking.

I said that because he was acting like he thought he only alone could make such a decision.

Then, as you can read in my original article, Lowe walked across the room to MCC President Walt Packard and proceeded to violate the minority member squashing agenda-setting standard that he had outlined in the meeting.

When college board members were present, Lowe said he only wanted to consider subjects at meetings upon which there a consensus had been reached.

But, Lowe ordered Packard,

”First thing on the agenda—a resolution.

“No flashes at the board meeting.”

How do I know what was said?

I wrote it down as Lowe was storming out the door. (A fuzzy, non-flash picture of Lowe’s exit is contained in the article.)

Packard complied.

This notice given the public on the MCC website:

Item 5:

Anyone who can figure out what this is all about, raise your hand?

The item was considered before public comment, just as the board majority censured Scott Summers and Donna Kurtz before public comment. (The picture you see was taken with a flash from the corner where I was able to find a spot to sit on the floor during the crowded censure meeting. The location gave me a chance to take the flash picture below of former Crystal Lake Park Board member Leona Nelson presenting a rose and an American flag to Donna Kurtz after the board voted 4-3 for censure. I think it pretty well captures the mood of the audience.)

In the article, Lowe compares me with “paparazzi who tail celebrities, saying the blogger stops at nothing to get his shot and photographs board members from multiple angles and at close range.”

I certainly admit to taking pictures from different angles from along the edge of the small room. That’s so I can get pictures of the board members facing both left and right, so I can put board members’ pictures on the right and left side of the page. I try to make the pages pleasing to the eye.

Illinois Press Association attorney Don Craven told the Daily Herald that the board has the right to limit flash photography:

“Allowing the board to do its business without being inundated with flashes is a reasonable governmental purpose. It’s just unfortunate that (Skinner’s) activities will lead to limitations on everybody.”

I have never seen any newspaper send a photographer to this junior college’s board meetings. At the board meeting in question, no newspaper even sent a reporter.

Craven was not quoted on whether Lowe has the right to prohibit photography completely.

My guess is that he does not, but I am not more a lawyer than Lowe.

Only time will tell how Lowe will use his newly granted power.

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