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OM 14-14 Sheldon v. Warwick Minimum Housing Review Board - Violation Found

The complaint alleged that the Warwick Minimum Housing Review Board violated the OMA when they did not allow the Complainant to videotape the January 6, 2014 meeting. In this Department's finding of Pagliarini v. Kent County Water Authority, OM 06-24, we recognized that the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island ruled in Belcher v. Mansi that "a determination that the [OMA] requires [a public body] to allow members of the press and public to tape record its meetings follows inexorably from the policy set forth [in the OMA,]" and that this practice may also extend to videotaping. 569 F.Supp. 379, 382-83 (D.R.I. 1983). The Court recognized that "[t]here may well be reasonable restrictions which could lawfully be imposed." Id. at 384. In Staven v. Portsmouth Financial Subcommittee (School Committee), OM 02-16, this Department interpreted Belcher to allow videotaping of public meetings, and that same interpretation was advanced in Pagliarini. We take the same position in the instant matter, and find that the Board violated the OMA when it issued a blanket decision not allowing Complainant to videotape the meeting.

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