Anchorage School Board chair orders citizen to stop videotaping board meetings

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Anchorage School Board Chairwoman Margo Bellamy told Anchorage citizen Nial Williams that he was not allowed to videotape the meeting on Monday because doing so was bothering a person who was testifying.

The person, Sarah Davies, a staff member of Bartlett High School had approached the public podium to address the body when she said Williams videotaping was “an incredible distraction.”

Bellamy replied, “And I apologize for that.”

Bellamy then instructed Williams to stop videotaping the meeting. He asserted his constitutional rights and the First Amendment, but then was approached by a security guard who told him to stop, while Davies said that his videotaping was making her nervous. The security guard escorted him from the room.

At that point School Board member Dave Donley asked Bellamy what rule Williams had broken by videotaping the proceedings. She said there was no rule, but that he had made a member of the public uncomfortable.

Donley proceeded to argue that making someone uncomfortable was not grounds for violating the Constitution. He said that Williams had not disrupted the proceedings in any way and vigorously defended the public’s right to record public meetings.

School Board member Kelly Lessens interrupted, saying that there were children in the room, and therefore filming the room is inappropriate.

However, the entire room is filmed during the meetings by school district cameras and, in fact, security cameras are all over the education center facilities.

A dispute broke out on among Bellamy and Donley, who challenged her ruling, which is a procedural motion that requires a vote of the body.

Bellamy denied she had had Williams removed from the meeting, and did not call for a vote on the ruling she had made. Instead, she called for a five-minute recess to sort it out in private, a violation of the Open Meetings Act. The leftists on the Anchorage School Board went along with the violation, except Donley.

People videotaping public meetings is commonplace in this era and Bellamy has not prevented others from videotaping the meetings. She singled out Williams. Without citizens videotaping the meetings, the public has little reasonable access because the school board has limited the number of people it allows in its meetings and asserts the public can watch the meetings on YouTube. The official tape of the meeting on YouTube makes it difficult to see what is going on in the meeting, because the set-up favors a still photo of the agenda and a very small, blurry screen of the room, with little of the proceedings actually shown.

Williams told Must Read Alaska that the woman testifying was not the subject of his video. He maintained a distance from her and was seated most of the time in one of the seats provided to the public. He was recording elected officials and the paid functionaries who work for them in the school district, who he believes will eventually require Covid vaccinations of children attending public schools.

He also occasionally pans the entire room with his camera so that later he can prove who was at a meeting who may have witnessed a constitutional violation.

Williams is on a mission to defend the U.S. Constitution and has been thrown out of school board and Anchorage Assembly meetings when he has become passionate about what he believes are illegal proceedings. But in this instance, Williams was not disrupting the meeting, and was just quietly recording it.

According to the Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press, “Although audio and video recording and photographing of public meetings is customarily done, the state OMA [Open Meetings Act] does not address this issue. If this issue arises, the press should argue there is a legal right to photograph or record such meetings, either implicit in the OMA, or arising from the common law or constitution.”

The Municipal Research and Services Center, a nonprofit organization that helps local governments across Washington State better serve their communities by providing legal and policy guidance on any topic, classifies people like Williams as “auditors” of government. 

“If the behavior of an auditor interferes with the operation of government or the ability of other members of the public to use a public facility, an auditor may be removed from public property they would otherwise be entitled to be in. See State v. Blair, 65 Wash. App. 64 (1992),” the organization advises.

“Note that such a disruption would have to consist of more than the mere act of recording. In order to be lawfully removed the auditor’s actions must make it impossible for city business to continue in an orderly fashion. Profane or abusive language doesn’t create a sufficient disruption by itself, either—only if such language qualifies as a physical threat or “fighting words” (words that inflict injury themselves or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace) or if the act (not just the content) of speaking itself  disrupts city business, is there cause for members of the public to be removed,” MRSC says.

“Ultimately, if an auditor doesn’t run afoul of these boundaries, the best advice for local government staff and elected officials is to ignore the auditors and not engage with them except to conduct business. Otherwise, a confrontation with an auditor may lead to a public allegation of a “violation” of their constitutional rights, both in the press and online, and perhaps even to a court challenge that the jurisdiction has attempted to violate the public’s constitutional rights,” the group says.

50 COMMENTS

  1. So the Muni has defense lawyers to pay out civil suits but unfortunately the lawyers are not going to be able to serve time in state or federal jail for the piling on of state and federal violations by Anchorage Government officials school board members and others like security guards good thing this was in a public meeting with plenty of evidence of clear violations good job Nial when you stand up for your constitutional rights it helps not just yourself but the little ones as well

    • Those publicly wearing uniforms are punishable for their deeds. Merely following illegal orders is no defense. It is a popular custom to bring in guards against the people though. The US Constitution prohibits standing armies used against the people in times of peace while the people must pay for their own illegal oppression. This is another popular custom. These are clear statements in the US Constitution. Feel free to read a personal copy of US Constitution frequently.

    • Under which clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution are you shoehorning the “Right to Petition the Government for a Customized Video of the Anchorage School Board Meetings’ Testimonies of My Choice?” Let me know when it goes before the Supremes. NOT.

      • Sophie, don’t kid yourself, you know nothing about the Constitution even if you are an unregistered foreign agent. The US Constitution you believe in error to be broken still stands with the republic. If you went to law school get your money back. I am not your tutor. You are twisting and shouting as best you can.

  2. More of the same that is occurring around the country. These boards forget who they represent and the limits on their authority. The Constitution is not suspended when you enter the meeting. There may be procedures to follow and timelines to make, but you can’t violate citizens first amendment rights just because it makes you uncomfortable. Recording proceedings is greatly desired and needed as board members are now acting like mini-dictators and running roughshod over a person’s individual rights. This behavior must end, or the person needs to find another job. Citizens are now rediscovering that “We the People” have the power over these boards and the board is accountable to the people. That means if you institute policies, mandates, or curriculum the people don’t want to do too their restrictive qualities, violation of protected rights or indoctrination of our children, you are in the wrong line of work. It is the citizens job to monitor your activities and send you packing if necessary.

  3. Hmmmm…if a supposed ‘public’ official or officials cannot tolerate a ‘public’ accounting or recording of their actions and / or decisions, perhaps that ‘public’ official or officials should resign, and compose themselves in a more ‘private’ setting…

    And as to the ‘comfort’ level of the individual testifying….’you’, the ‘individual’, are doing so within a ‘public’ setting, already being recorded and monitored, so what is making you ‘uncomfortable’ within this particular situation?

    You either assert your position within a ‘public’ setting, that is, anyone else within the room can witness your testimony without recording it, as well as the already recorded aspect of the testimony, or you do not assert said position, in fear of said exposition, which within itself, is the opposite of ‘public’ testimony….

    Which is it?

    It is a ‘public’ meeting…what part of ‘public’ do you not understand?

    Just sayin’…

  4. Parents need to mobilize. This is the very basis of our system of public access and participation in government meetings.
    If we had a functional legislature there would be statutory clarity.

  5. There is no presumption of privacy in a public meeting where the public has specifically been noticed and invited. Personally I’m glad public proceedings are videoed by conservative interested persons. Too often in the past the US Constitution and unalienable rights are whimsically liened with impunity. How to know and claim all your civil rights as a freeman is not adequately taught by the Anchorage School District. Its political positions indoctrinates a limited vague version of the clear language of the law. Our Constitutional rights are the supreme law. Some elected servants are accustomed to curtailing participation of the public in our meetings. We don’t go for entertainment purposes but to monitor and correct ultra vires illegal group behavior that can happen.

  6. Now the ASD has begun to vaccinate children. Parents, beware of the dangerous side effects of the vaccine. Only 1 in 1 million children ages 5-18 will die from Covid. But in the ages 5-11, 106 will die from the vaccine. Lots of serious myocarditis, inflammation of the heart tissue, especially in males. Here is my testimony to the ASD School Board:
    “Good evening school board members and Superintendent Bishop. I am David Boyle and am speaking for myself.
    I want to take this opportunity to discuss Covid vaccine mandates.
    First, remember that none of the vaccines are fully APPROVED. They are ONLY approved for emergency use.
    Second, none of the vaccines work on the delta variant. They only work on the original alpha virus. Remember, this virus like all others, mutates constantly to survive. The next Greek letter mutation will probably occur in the early spring in Alaska, especially with very, very low Vitamin D levels as a prophylactic to the virus.
    Third, Let’s talk about vaccinating children. Children have a greater immunity to most all diseases, including Covid. The chances of a child younger than 12 dying from Covid is 1 in 1 Million!
    BUT children have suffered serious side effects from the vaccines to include myocarditis which is an inflammation of the heart muscle. Recovery may take a very long time. AND this inflammation causes scarring of the heart tissue. Remember, the heart is a muscle with paths of electrical conductivity that MUST go in a specific sequence. Otherwise, one may have heart arrhythmias and death. The scarring of the heart tissue can interfere with the sequential electrical conductivity. Younger girls have suffered fertility problems from receiving the vaccine. We do not know at this time what the long term effects on reproduction will be. Let’s keep the children safe.
    BOTTOM LINE: Children have an extremely low chance of dying from Covid due to their high levels of immunity to disease. ONE IN 1 MILLION! So far, more children have died in America from bicycle accidents than Covid. And I do know that none of you want to be responsible for inflecting damage on any children.
    SO, KEEP OUR CHILDREN SAFE. THERE SHOULD BE NO VACCINE MANDATES FOR OUR KIDS. LET PARENTS DECIDE—IT’S THEIR KIDS, NOT YOURS.
    Thank you.”

      • Bob, while I agree with you that David should cite his sources, your attitude of dismissing this out of hand, is what got us all here in the first place.

        Why not let all voice their opinions, cite their sources and then YOU or I can read and make up our own minds.

        Simply classifying everything that doesn’t fit the “establish science” as “phony” or “false” really helps only those who wish to keep this going and is intellectually dishonest.

          • Very good Evan! I would like to point out that there is a difference between “fake” news (as in made-up stuff to embarrass someone) and suppressing information of value that doesn’t fit the narrative.

    • Dear Municipal public education employees: I too would prefer these chemical injections be administered off municipal education site. If an immediate negative reaction occurs and the immediate ambulance procedures and evacuation drama unfolds stimulatingly for all impressionable, malleable children without parental support is evidence of municipal callous stupidity. Have medications administered by over competant professionals per Nurenberg minimum safety experimental guidelines to delimit municipal legal liability exposure and to preclude the unnecessary drama for small defenseless Anchoragites. Please use your brain.

    • Hello David, I can respect your response to the ASD, but would perhaps look at your first two points, we now actually do have full FDA approval, and none of the vaccines are considered complete protection against any of the variants, they are all only considered layers of protection. The reason that I point out those two areas are because we can often throw the baby out with the bath water and as soon as some read those two points, one may try and invalidate the rest of your points. I will say that in my case, I have 5 children, 4 adult and 5 grandchildren. My Vaccinated children have had no ill reactions from the vax, however, my daughter who lives in Texas with her three children have had COVID twice, catching both variants, it has taken a big toll on them, mentally, emotionally, financially and now they don’t know which narrative to trust.

      • Comirnaty is the only FDA approved vaccine. It is also not available for distribution in the US. The CDC has admitted that Comirnaty is legally distinct from the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. Therefore, all the currently available vaccines are authorized under Emergency Use Authorization only. Additionally, the vaccines have been sold to the public as the savior of humanity against COVID. If they are so effective, what threat do the unvaccinated pose to the vaccinated? Why has the Biden administration felt it necessary to use an unelected branch of the federal government to force medical decisions on everyone, regardless of individual situations? What happened to “My body, my choice”? As for your personal story, anecdotal evidence is no evidence at all.

  7. If she’s uncomfortable testifying in a public setting while someone is videotaping, then she shouldn’t be testifying.

    Williams was well within his rights to videotape the meeting. Any board member stating otherwise should perhaps attend an appropriate class at their one of their own schools.

  8. If everyone would get their kids out of these Communist Indoctrination Centers, no one would care what these Indoctrination Center Boards do or don’t do. Just saying.

  9. Perhaps someone in the news business should credential Mr. Williams as a reporter. Even the liberal courts take a dim view of First Amendment violations.

    • …..and therein lies the entire problem. It appears these board members know they can violate rights with impunity, because taking them to court or hiring a lawyer is an expense most individuals can ill-afford and legal actions takes a long time.
      That being said, if “One Hot Mess” can claim blogger status (and the implied 1A protections) Mr. Williams, should consider starting a blog, documenting public meetings.

  10. Someone’s “feelings” do not trump (pun intended) someone else’s Constitutional rights. It’s a public event by elected officials. There is zero presumption of privacy.

    But this is Anchorage where the Constitution and rule of law no longer apply.

    Mr Williams should sue the city, the school board, and each member except Donally. He should contact FIRE, a 1st Amendment in education advocacy group for assistance.

    Note to Mat Su. If you think you’re immune to this cancer, think again. Malignancy always spreads.

  11. I couldn’t get past the word “orders” in the title, as if we are a communist nation where the government and public officials work in the dark beyond scrutiny and over watch.

  12. Oh, so the poor little snowflake testifying was “uncomfortable”? Boo hoo!
    .
    I would ask Bellamy to show me in the US Constitution where we have an inalienable right to not be uncomfortable.
    .
    Petty bureaucratic tyrants abusing their power: now that makes ME uncomfortable!

    • Sadly, teachers today have been indoctrinated to believe that everything is about them. They really believe they are entitled to whatever comfort they are presented with and never have to suffer any inconvenience whatsoever. That teacher, due to a complete lack of understanding of the constitution, has never even considered that what she wants isn’t the most important thing in the universe. The firm belief in entitlement by these teachers is really unbelievable! But they find themselves entitled to whatever whim flitters through their “minds.” And to their entitled way of thinking, it doesn’t matter what YOU think or what happens to YOU. The schools are filled with people who think this way, I know, I’m a teacher.

  13. The parents of Loudoun County, Virginia finally had enough of their school board and voted this week to fix it.
    .
    When does it happen in Anchorage? Enough is enough.

  14. If you are doing the right thing. If your cause, actions, and intents are righteous, you welcome the scrutiny.
    .
    If you are knowingly acting in bad faith, you shy away from scrutiny.

    • Bob, slight little problem with that. Mr. Williams is NOT a government official but a private citizen just like you. This event was a PUBLIC meeting and he was observing PUBLIC officials.
      What you are suggesting would be consider harassment and a threat and is not how a democratic society functions, but then apparently you do not wish to live in a democratic society, as you advocated tyranny and Marxism.

  15. It is very interesting that throughout the entire conversation between board members not one pointed out OR acknowledged that the meeting is being taped already. This should have been stated to Mrs. Davies from the start, and should have ended all discussion. However in this instance, as it was clear from the recording, Mrs. Bellamy appeared to be familiar with this testifier and wished to accommodate her in any way.

  16. For all the airtime that Mr. Williams and Mr. Darden get on this page it would seem that they should get all the support from conservatives in the races in which they are running for.

      • OMG!
        Unite, run for office and run these bastards out of office! Make a difference, stand up and run for their seats!

        • If memory serves, Mr Darden tried to run for AQD seat in April. He was told by the clerk that the seat was not vacant even though that district lacked proper representation for much longer than the 90 days stipulated in the charter.

  17. You could look at the filming incident like You Asked For It does – that “America is dying”or you could live in a fear free world and be a kind and cooperative citizen and just be considerate of the speaker’s apprehension.

    • The meeting is already being recorded, takes place in a public forum and Mr. Williams did not disrupt the meeting in any way. If Mrs. Davies is this apprehensive about speaking in public, she might consider emailing the board instead. But it is not her right to have anyone she doesn’t like evicted.
      BTW a “fear free world” does not exist, it’s euphemism for total submission….nice try Evan!

      • Well not “total submission”; that’s just exaggeration. And maybe your right, I exaggerated too.

        My point is that cooperation and neighborliness go a long way toward community.

  18. So my taxes will go up to pay for the cost of the settlement of his likely lawsuit over this First Amendment violation?

  19. Then -everyone- stands up and records the CIA (Chump In Action)
    .
    … while national news media records -everyone- getting thrown out.
    .
    Should be good for a bit of prime-time embarrassment…

    • Why don’t you just try to make things better? Why be a PITA about it. Just be a citizen with strong passionate views.

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