La Joya looks to prohibit recording of public meetings

La Joya Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas said he’s consulting with the city attorney over whether the city can prohibit recordings during city council meetings.

The mayor, as reported by The Progress Times, told the public in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting that recording and taking pictures was prohibited.

“I gave two minutes for anybody that wanted to record, ask questions, or take pictures,” Salinas said on Friday. “After that, I didn’t want distractions during the meeting.”

Salinas explained he was concerned that a few disgruntled former employees, who were in attendance, would record them and post things on social media.

“Just harassing us,” he said. “I just don’t want that.”

The Texas Open Meetings Act states a person in attendance “may record all or any part of an open meeting of a governmental body by means of a recorder, video camera, or other means of aural or visual reproduction.”

A governmental body may enact rules to maintain order regarding the location of recording equipment or the manner in which a recording is conducted. However, those rules cannot prevent someone from exercising their right to record.

“I’m checking into the law,” he said when asked if they will allow records and photos in the future. “I’m having my attorney look it up and if we have to, then we will do it.

“If not, if it’s an option, then we’re not going to do it.”

A message left for City Attorney Michael Pruneda requesting comment went unreturned as of press time.

State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, who pushed for legislation to have city meetings recorded, said the public had a right to attend and record meetings for themselves if they so wish.

“If you’re a public official and you’re having meetings out in public there’s no reason whatsoever to prohibit the public from recording or videotaping.”