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Friday, July 16, 2010

U.C. Spokespeople's Dueling Rationales For Booting Filmmaker Out of Meeting

Posted By on Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 3:55 PM

click to enlarge get_out.jpg
Call us crazy, but we were beginning to think that the rationale for denying a documentary filmmaker access to a U.C. Regents meeting yesterday depended on the university spokesperson you spoke to.

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. 

click to enlarge Sayonara, Mr. Chavez...
  • Sayonara, Mr. Chavez...
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

the labor: They are.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF

and @SFWeekly 


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Lauren Smiley


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