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Marathon County considers banning supervisors from recording closed session meetings

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Marathon County courthouse
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WAUSAU, Wis (WSAU) - The Marathon County board is exploring whether or not they can prohibit their members from recording closed session meetings.

The county's executive committee approved a request this week to draft up a policy that would keep their own members from using audio or video recorders inside of closed session. The issue came up after Supervisor Oliver Burrows brought a recorder to a session of the county board and left it on during closed session.

Burrows says he is trying to cover his legal bases. "If I'm going to potentially faced being called to testify, I want an accurate record of what occurred." Burrows says there have been inaccuracies in the minutes and resolutions passed from committees to the county board.

County board chair Gary Wyman says the issue is one of privacy for the county, and that sessions are closed for legal and personnel issues. "Those items obviously should not be made public until the issue is resolved and then we'd be happy to open up those to public record." Wyman says the vote at executive committee means the county will start looking at that policy in order to protect itself. "I don't want to come home from a 3 o'clock closed session meeting and see what was discussed on the news already."

County corporation counsel Scott Corbett says state statute is silent on the issue of recording closed session. "There is a statue that lets the public or anyone record an open meeting, but it's silent on closed meetings." He says the policy will take some time to research.

The executive committee will take a look at the proposed policy at their meeting in March. Burrows says he will file legal action if the county approves the policy.

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