What's wrong with this picture?
The Columbia County Commission has agreed to set up video cameras in the Government Complex Auditorium to record meetings.
Meanwhile, the School Board this week was scheduled to agree to preserve as little record of board action as legally possible.
In the past, the school board, like the county commission, has kept audio recordings of all meetings. In fact, it was always something of a joke from the audience to hear the beep signaling the board secretary to either flip the cassette tape or - if the meeting was really dragging on - to start a second tape.
The board will now keep those tapes only long enough to compile meeting minutes, and the tapes will then be erased rather than archived.
Current board policy already calls for the minutes to record only motions, seconds and the vote tally, with no information about discussion or dissent. Thus, future generations will be able to review minutes, audio and video of county commission meetings for details of how decisions were made. But those researching School Board meetings will find only the dry meeting minutes.
For example, the minutes from the Feb. 13 meeting at which this policy received tentative approval will show only that the tape-destroying policy received a motion for approval and a second, followed by unanimous approval.
Does it matter that board members raised questions about preservation of the tapes? Apparently not to them, because their revised policy means no record of that discussion will exist.
This change, it seems, was suggested at a Georgia School Boards Association seminar. The law requires only that the minutes be kept, and the GSBA folks said recordings could become unflattering evidence in court actions.
Still, it makes quite a contrast when the school board is preserving less information, and commissioners are saving more.
I suppose the silver lining is this: If the board is going to keep only sparse records of its own deliberations, that increases the importance of such information being kept by the county's newspaper of record.
And they can't erase our archives.
One out, two more in
After a couple of prayerful weeks, with wide-ranging discussions from supporters, family, friends, colleagues and a priest or two, Bobby Christine has decided not to run for the Jim Whitehead's 24th District state senate seat.
When Whitehead announced he would seek the 10th District U.S. congressional seat of the late Charlie Norwood, Christine started testing the waters for a run at the state Senate.
Former state Rep. Bill Jackson began making his own plans to run. That potential opponent complicated matters, but mostly Christine took advice that says he has plenty of time for politics - but he'll get only one opportunity to raise his young family.
His star will rise in due time. Meanwhile, Jackson thus far has a clear path to making his fourth non-consecutive return to the Legislature - probably a record. No one else has announced their intention to run.
It's just the opposite with the 10th District race. On Monday, two more candidates entered that contest: Julian "Hutch" Hutchins, an Augusta physician, and Bill Greene, of Braselton, Ga., a self-styled "conservative Internet guru."
Bill Greene is not to be confused with Willie Green, the former football player from Athens who had already announced. And Hutchins shouldn't be confused with state Sen. Ralph Hudgens, of Comer, who also is running.
Whitehead, Hutchins, Hudgens, Greene and Green all face state Terry Holley, Paul Broun Jr. and Jackie Poteet.
The more, the merrier.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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