Yesterday, UC officials told 35-year-old filmmaker Ric Chavez that he couldn't tape a regents meeting in Mission Bay. State Sen. Leland Yee and free press advocates have condemned this as a violation of the state's open meeting laws. But just why Chavez was ejected from the premises remains murky.
U.C. spokesman Pete
King told us that U.C. officials were going to let Chavez into the meeting to film -- as they would allow any "Joe Private
Citizen" to film the meeting, he said -- until U.C. police complained that
Chavez was filming their security setup. The bottom line: It was a
police decision, not ours. Yet today in the Chronicle,
U.C. spokeswoman Lynn Tierney had a very different story. She said it's a
blanket policy that the regents never let anyone but credentialed media
film or record the meetings.These rationales are not compatible. We called Tierney today to find out what gives. She repeated that it's policy that no one
can record the meetings but credentialed media. But she otherwise
confirmed that both U.C. officials (herself
included) and the police didn't want to let Chavez in.
"We'd told him in an e-mail, we wouldn't be able to accommodate him in
the press area," Tierney says. Yet when Chavez still showed up, "I was going
to make an exception and maybe let him in. But then I talked to the
police and when they informed me they had some concerns about him and
had already had another encounter with them outside, then I reverted. I
made a mistake in judgment by even considering letting him in."
So there you have it. Tierney says that the U.C.'s legal counsel is
reviewing the regents meetings policy to see if it's out of compliance
with the state's open meeting laws -- which state any citizen can record proceedings of a
government meeting. Senator Leland Yee's office would like to save them