Attempt to ban Civic Association from Yacht Club nixed
The Cape Coral Civic Association was nearly banned from using the Yacht Club on Monday, as Councilmember Bill Deile sought to bar the group unless it allowed its meetings to be videotaped by private citizens.
The Civic Association stopped local videographer Duane Adams from taping its meeting on Feb. 22, a move that sparked the controversy.
Deile said barring Adams from taping a publicly advertised meeting on public property was a clear violation of his first amendment rights.
“I don’t have any problem with anyone having a public meeting … but if they open it to the public, they have to accept the fact the public has a right to record there,” Deile said.
Civic pays the city for using the property for 10 months of use, and has a contract with the city to those ends.
Adams was allowed to attend the meeting, but not record the proceedings, according to Civic President Lyndia Bradley. Speakers at the Feb. 22 meeting included Lee County Commissioner John Manning, and former Cape Coral Public Works Director Chuck Pavlos.
According to a Cape Coral Police Report dated Feb. 22, officers responded to a “disturbance” at the Yacht Club involving Bradley and Adams, who argued that he should be allowed to videotape a public meeting on public property.
Bradley provided the officer with “paperwork and contracts indicating that her private organization purchased and rented the Yacht Club for 10 months putting them in control of the building,” according to the report.
Adams was told not to tape the meeting, but was offered the opportunity to attend, the report states.
Adams does have a press credential through the Lee County Sheriff’s office. Deile said Bradley attempted to get Adams’ credentials taken away by Sheriff Mike Scott.
Deile demanded the Civic Association apologize to Adams, and moved to require that any public organization, not just Civic, be required to allow videotaping if holding their events on public property.
“It’s unseemly to deny access to some and allow others,” Deile said.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said he thought the Civic Association was well within its rights to choose who does and does not videotape the meetings. It did allow local news stations to film that night.
“If it’s a private club, much like someone renting the Yacht Club for a wedding, I believe they have the right to limit who comes in,” McGrail said. “A wedding just doesn’t allow everyone to enter … they were within their rights to select who they want in.”
The motion failed with a 4-4 vote, with McGrail, Marty McClain, Chris Chulakes-Leetz and Derrick Donnell voting against the motion.
Donnell said he feels City Council should not be involved in a disagreement between private citizens, saying, “It seems like were over-stretching … I don’t understand what this has to do with us as a body.”