Government

Hear Here: Hunterdon Freeholders Debate Posting Audio of Their Meetings

Dec. 6, 2016 Hunterdon Freeholder meeting Credits: TAPinto Flemington-Raritan. Group photo: Bill Brokaw; Other photos: Curtis Leeds / TAPinto Flemington-Raritan file photos
Dec. 20, 2016 Hunterdon Freeholder meeting Credits: TAPinto Flemington-Raritan. Group photo: Bill Brokaw; Other photos: Curtis Leeds / TAPinto Flemington-Raritan file photos

FLEMINGTON, NJ – Of all the news stories TAPinto Flemington-Raritan reported last year, one of the most controversial would seem to be one of the simplest.

Should the county Freeholders post audio of their public meetings to the county website?

Freeholder Rob Walton has argued in favor of making the audio available.

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No Freeholder has opposed him.

Instead some have argued – including Freeholder Matt Holt in particular – that concern about “security” is the only obstacle to posting the content. Holt has stated that unlike other content on the county’s website, audio could be subject to manipulation. Holt wants information technology professionals to advise him how the audio could be secured to prevent such tampering.

Walton’s answer is that any Internet content is subject to tampering and even misuse, but that it’s worth the risk.

A few TAPinto readers have objected to the way we have reported this issue.

“Mr. Holt’s concerns are validated by your coverage of this ‘controversy,’” said Raritan Township resident Jeffrey Harris. “By using selective quotations, and framing them out of context, TAP has tried to make some of the Freeholders look foolish. The more you write about this, the more I support Holt’s cautious, adult, measured approach to widely disseminating information, even as over-zealous reporters argue that it’s public and should be made as widely available as technology allows.”

“Reporters who seek to stir the pot of efficient and responsive government are the reason distrust of the media is at an all-time high,” wrote Mary Vincenzo, who lives in Hillsborough but who has family in Hunterdon. “Hunterdon’s low taxes, high quality of life, outstanding schools and progressive leadership are to the credit of the Freeholder board. It is to the shame of the so-called ‘press’ that some reporters seize a controversy as a way to intimidate, embarrass or enforce an agenda.”

We think this is a matter for readers to decide for themselves. Under the state’s Open Public Records Act, TAPinto Flemington-Raritan obtained audio of the two most recent Freeholder meetings where Walton’s proposal was discussed.

The audio has been posted to YouTube; click on one of the the images in this article to start the program. The segment from the Dec. 6 meeting is less than 16 minutes long and the Dec. 20 discussion runs less than 6 minutes.

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