Santa Paula Times

The next sound you hear: City Council tape recording system has hearing

September 03, 1999
Santa Paula City Council
It was on the agenda for the City Council meeting of June, but a solution to the problem of inaudible audio tapes of city meetings has not yet been resolved. The city’s sound system was the basis of a verbal discussion - just one of many that can’t be heard after the fact - on what to do about the aging equipment.Audio tapes of meetings such as the City Council and Planning Commission are required by law, but the tapes of of Santa Paula’s public meetings are inaudible due to system failures.Sound systems don’t come cheap and the council learned from Assistant City Manager Julie Hernandez that replacing the aged equipment could cost up to $15,000 depending on the quality, accessories and function options.Presently the quality of audio tapes of any meeting held in City Council Chambers ranges from bad to worse, a major loss to official public business record-keeping. Audio tapes by law must be kept on hand for a limited period so anyone that wishes can order a copy; one citizen recently did, later complaining to the City Council that the $7 cost bought nothing but static and a persistent hum.Councilman Don Johnson urged that the city do something pronto about fixing the problem.
Johnson noted that if the city had “Good quality tapes the council could address action minutes,” i.e. an abbreviated form of hard copy meeting records. “The quality of the tapes is so poor we need to find a way to fix the problem. . .we could get something at Radio Shack that would provide better tapes,” he noted.Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa has also addressed the lack of audio meeting records, noting that if mistakes are made in minute-taking the tapes are invaluable in clearing up any statement misunderstandings.