On August 6, 2020, the GHI Board of Directors returned to their discussion of the member’s request that audiovisual recordings of meetings be made available to members. This was originally placed on the agenda for the July 9, 2020 meeting (read more here). The decision of the Board was that the General Manager would request a legal opinion from GHI legal counsel. This discussion was brought back to the Board after the legal opinion was obtained.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home-order and gathering limitations, the GHI Board of Directors had made audio recordings of Board meetings. The General Manager had previously discussed this with legal counsel who stated that as these recordings are made, they are records of the corporation to which all members must have access. Since the pandemic, Board meetings have been held via virtual platforms, including Zoom, and audiovisual recordings of the meetings have been made. These audiovisual recordings are used to write the meeting minutes, but then deleted once the minutes are written.
GHI legal counsel has stated to the General Manager that these audiovisual recordings are considered to be “records of the corporation” and therefore must be provided to members upon request. This does not mean, however, that the audiovisual recordings must be posted on the GHI website, which is a concern as the website is a public site without a password-protected member portal.
The member presented the agenda item again, stating the opinion that it can be very difficult to attend Board meetings, even now with the new virtual platform. Members have personal and work obligations that prevent them from attending a twice-monthly meeting at 7:45pm on a weekday. Since the virtual meetings are already being recorded, it is believed to be a logical next step to share these audiovisual recordings with members. This would be a way to continue to encourage member participation and involvement in the cooperative.
Discussion among the Board continued, and it was shared that GHI is working on a future member portal that would be password-protected. There are concerns about the recordings being leaked; this is a privacy concern because it would be without member permission for their visual and/or audio recordings to be released. The idea was presented that a draft of the minutes could be shared with members to read sooner, but it was thought that releasing a recording could be worse than releasing draft minutes before they were officially approved. The consensus from the Board seemed to be a concern for member privacy and ensuring that any recording was for members only. Another Board member expressed concern that providing members with recordings would discourage in-person (or live virtual, at this time) attendance when it is hoped that members will share thoughts, opinions, and concerns. Although it has been noted that member attendance has been very strong, and in some cases stronger, than in-person meetings prior to the March 2020 stay-at-home-order.
The member raised the fact that since the audiovisual recordings of the virtual Board meetings are made, this makes them official records of the corporation to which all members must have access. The Board President recognized that this was true, and as such all members are required to have access until such a time that the recordings are deleted. Since the recordings are made in order to establish the meeting minutes, the recordings are deleted once the minutes are written.
The Board President shared a personal opinion that he would be in favor of putting these recordings on a password-protected member portal once created. The Director of Member Services shared that GHI is in the process of evaluating a member portal system, and they have narrowed the selection down to three systems. He says that GHI will hopefully have selected and have access to the system by January 1, 2021. This is planned to be a cloud-based system, so file capacity should not be a problem.
Based on this information, the Board President suggested to table this agenda item while GHI waits for the new member portal. This will be discussed again once a password-protected member portal is up and running. The Board President ended the conversation by stating that the audiovisual recordings are being stored until the minutes are made, and if members would like to view a recording, they should contact the GHI office.
Stay tuned for more information about the member portal and the subsequent discussion of providing the audiovisual recordings of Board meetings via the portal.