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Freeport trustees nix meeting tape edits

The reviews are in and Freeport trustees have decided that, when it comes to editing of videotaped village board meetings, less is best.

Trustees adopted the rules preventing the editing of televised recordings of local government meetings after trustees and some residents claimed Mayor Andrew Hardwick ordered the tapes edited to show himself in a positive light.

Hardwick adamantly denies the allegation.

The new rules, approved Monday night in a 3-1 vote, only allow editing of offensive language. During the vote, Hardwick dissented and trustee William White was not present.

""I look forward to the implementation," trustee Carmen Pinyero said Tuesday. "As with any new process, there's trial and error."

Hardwick has said the rules for the tapes, which air on the village's local public access channel, are wrongheaded because they state that community events cannot be recorded and shown without approval of the trustees.

He also contended the rules were unnecessary because, he said, the tapes already air without editing.

Hardwick said he hopes an ongoing civil suit over the enactment of the rules will end with Justice F. Dana Winslow determining that the regulations infringe on Hardwick's authority.

The trustees filed the suit against Hardwick last month in State Supreme Court in Mineola. The suit said Hardwick repeatedly blocked trustees from voting on the rules, and Winslow last week ordered Hardwick to allow a vote. The case, in which Winslow has yet to issue a final ruling, is in court June 21.

"It's about freedom of speech. I'm not going to give that up," said Hardwick on Monday night.

Speakers at the trustees meeting were divided between those who supported the rules and those who thought the measure was trustees' attempt to gain control of the village tapes.

The tapes are produced by a local firm, Real Tyme Media.

"This resolution is self-serving," said resident Annette Dennis.

But resident Kelley Martinez disagreed.

"The intent of this resolution is to prevent abuse," she said.

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