*taken from recent BOS meeting minutes*
On April 9, 2003 the BOS voted to keep tapes of public meetings for 90 days. On October 10, 2007 the subject came up again and Chairman Tedford stated that he would like to discuss how long the tapes and notes are kept at a later meeting, which after researching we do not believe was readdressed. The State Statute makes clear that tape recordings of meeting minutes only need to be kept until written record is approved at the meeting. As soon as the minutes are approved, the tapes can either be reused or disposed. Chairman Tedford thinks it is only necessary to keep the tape until the minutes of that meeting are approved by the Board because once approved they are the official record of the meeting. Selectman Fraser disagrees and thinks it is useful to keep the tapes in case someone needs to reference something directly from a tape. When Selectman Fraser was the Town’s secretary she kept years of tapes in a box. Selectman Ruth thinks someone has requested the copy of a tape only two times since he’s been a selectman. Selectman Fraser believes there has only been one occurrence while she was secretary. Selectman Fraser would like the tapes kept at least until the official minutes have been posted, in case any one wants a copy of the tape. Selectman Whippie makes a motion to continue and/or restart keeping the tapes for 90 days and then destroy or reuse the tapes. Selectman Berthiaume seconds the motion and it passes 4-1. Chairman Tedford says it is the responsibility of the Board to review the minutes and approve them. The Board members all agree.
The Planning Board had this same conversation several months ago when it became evident to Margaret Sharra that we were gathering evidence from these tapes to use in our lawsuit against the board in the Van Dyke matter. Since several audio tapes of past meetings that were requested under the "Right To Know" law have somehow mysteriously disappeared from the Planning Board office, containing important information in regards to the current lawsuit before the Superior Court, we can only wonder what happened to them and who's responsible for their disappearance.
It would seem that since several of us have been requesting these tapes of meeting minutes for the past couple of years , we have ruffled the feathers of those who do not wish to have their word questioned and are just expected to believe whatever we are told. Meeting minutes by the way are not verbatim, they are a condensed version of the events of that meeting and from our own comparisons of written and the actual taped accounts, much information is either omitted or written in a manner to suggest a completely different meaning than what was intended. Therefore we contend that these taped meeting minutes are an important record of the events and should be saved, if not for any other reason, than to provide an accurate and detailed account of what transpired at a public meeting. As stated in the minutes above by BOS member Fraser, these tapes can easily be stored in a box for years to be referenced if needed to defend the town in a lawsuit as well as provide evidence of wrong doing if such is the case. Why the big rush to destroy them?