By a 7-2 vote, Rome’s City Commission banned the use ‘personal electronic devices’ by commissioners during meetings.
Mayor Bill Collins, Commissioner Jamie Doss and City Attorney Andy Davis told of concerns about public perception, Open Records inspection of some of those text conversations or, as Doss implored, “putting the entire city in jeopardy.” There was talk of Georgia Municipal Association concerns about it as well.
The intent, however, seemed focused on the commission’s two top texters, Mark Cochran and Wendy Davis, both of whom spoke against the proposal. Both said their phones — like iPads and even Apple Watches as well as Zoom technology used to link colleagues to the meetings — would be in question. Davis, prone to take pictures of public presentations and posting them on social media, asked why would she be prevented from doing just that?
Collins told the board of the days before technology when commissioners would stand up during the meeting, walk to another commissioner’s chair, and discuss a matter. That is OK to do, he said. And yet nothing was said about how making that conversation public as opposed to Doss’ fear that a text conversation would be public record — thus available for public review.
In the end of the surprisingly lengthy conversation — one that had come up at earlier commission retreats – it came down to the 7-2 vote with Cochran and Davis providing the no votes.
We ask: In this spirit of “transparency,” why not then make the caucus meetings where much of the city’s business is decided also available for public review on a webcast or Facebook Live? And documented for public records?