Emeryville Officer Bans Recording at Wareham Meeting

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday March 13, 2007

At the March 8 meeting called by Wareham to show off its proposed transit cente-commercial-laboratory project, some 50 community members showed up—as well as two Wareham attorneys, a Wareham architect, a public relations consultant and a couple of helpers to operate the power point display. An Emeryville Police officer was stationed near the door. 

As the meeting progressed, the police officer appeared at the side of one member of the audience who was making an audio recording of the meeting and told the individual to turn off his recorder, as he did not have permission from Robbins to record. The individual hesitated and the officer told him that if he didn’t turn the recording off, he would ask him to leave. 

Robbins’ attorney Semha Alwaya, who was nearby, added to the insistence that the individual would have to turn off the recorder. In the end, he complied. 

Emeryville City Counclmember John Fricke, who did not attend the meeting, said in an interview Sunday evening, that he had received several complaints on the issue.  

Fricke, who is an attorney, said as he understands it, because the meeting was intended for the public and advertised as such, even though it was held by a private developer, it was a public meeting and any member of the public could record it.  

Reached Monday, Emeryville City Attorney Michael Biddle disagreed, saying he considers the meeting private, since it was called by the developer and not the city.  

Then why was a uniformed Emeryville police officer there apparently doing the bidding of the developer? the Daily Planet asked. 

“You’re kidding me,” Biddle responded, unaware an officer had been there. “I don’t know why we would have an Emeryville police officer there,” he said. 

Calls to Robbins’ attorney Semha Alwaya were not returned.