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Manteo won’t televise meetings

After what could only be seen as a blistering rebuke by commissioner Darrell Collins – aimed at the newly elected Manteo mayor and a Manteo commissioner – to televise town meetings, the Manteo Board of Commissioners let a motion to televise commissioners meetings die without acting on it.

The normally soft-spoken Collins said that the issue of televising meetings has been on the agenda for three months and neither Mayor Bobby Owens nor commissioner Eddie Mann, who pushed for televising the meetings, had bothered to ask him or other commissioners their opinion. Instead, he said, they allowed the media to ask the questions that should have been discussed in open session.

The mayor said televised meetings would bring transparency to Manteo government and clear up what he termed “misinformation.” Owens said, “the town can move forward or backward; but if they wanted to move backward there are towns all over eastern North Carolina that are dying.” Mann told the board townspeople had approached him, saying they want the meetings on public access television and it was his job to do what the people of Manteo want.

There are no transparency issues, Collins said. The majority of the citizens he spoke with saw it as a non-issue. “We all love this town,” said Collins, “it is unique among Dare county towns with all the commissioners elected having been born and raised in Manteo and their families have been doing business this way for over 100 years.” Looking directly at Mann he said, “before going public you should have asked how we [the board] feel about it.” He told Mann that what happened undermined and created distrust among the board.

Owens asked what the board wanted to do. Mann introduced a motion that the town move forward with a plan to televise town meetings. Mann’s motion died when no other commissioner was willing to second it.

For now, the issue of televising Manteo Board of Commissioners meetings is dead. Manteo will remain the only local government that doesn’t televise replays of their meetings on public access TV. Mann doesn’t rule out bringing the issue back in front of the board. When asked if he intended at a later time to reintroduce a motion for televising meeting he simply said, “we’ll see.”

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