The normally routine process of approving meeting minutes became a subject of debate at a recent University City Council meeting, as some council members questioned why select comments had not been included in the minutes.
At the June 25 council meeting, Councilman Byron Price questioned why comments he had made at the June 11 meeting were not included in the minutes, while comments from other council members were.
City Clerk Joyce Pumm said the editing was done following legal advice from City Attorney Paul Martin. He advised that minutes should focus on the actual vote on agenda items and not on conversations that may have taken place beforehand.
Martin said the issue is not about whether Price's comments were factual, but whether comments could be used against council members at a later date.
Price claimed the deletion process represented a form of censorship, and that deleting comments from minutes had never before been practised in his 14 years on the board.
Councilman Paulette Carr also noted that in the June 11 meeting minutes, relating to a discussion held about the city's pools, comments by Councilman Stephen Kraft were included, but comments from other council members were deleted.
Martin said that was done for the same reason as the removal of Price's comments — for the purpose of focusing on the actual vote, rather than general conversation.
Councilman Terry Crow, an attorney, said it is not unusual in legal matters for interested parties to examine minutes of meetings to determine what led to a particular decision.
"We have to stand by our comments," Crow said. "To unilaterally remove the comments was a bad administrative decision."