Skypocracy rules in northern Minnesota city

A state ruling indicates that Cohesset city councilor Dennis Blankensop did not violate the open meeting law when he attended a Jan. 8 council meeting via the internet video service Skype. The Grand Rapids Herald-Review has the story.

The Minnesota Newspaper Association continues to argue that a city councilor attending a meeting from another state violates the principles of the “access” component of the open meeting law. The councilor can participate but he is not accessible to the public, according to MNA attorney Mark Anfinson.

State regulators and Cohasset city officials argue that there is a provision allowing video conferencing so long as it occurs in a public setting and at least some of the councilors are there to see the public’s reactions and hear their questions.

Blankensop will resume his council activity via Skype from California this week.

The concern here is not the specific actions in Cohasset, but the potential precedent set in a region where the same social circles that produce elected officials also produce snowbirds. The social stratification in the area would escalate. Let’s hope this becomes the exception and not the norm.

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