“I also think I want to bring a sock puppet,” Drayman said.
City Manager Jim Starbird confirmed that the councilman’s request was to prohibit close-up camera angles to the face while speaking, instead reverting to a standard wide-angle long shot.
“We did express at the time that that was unusual,” Starbird said.
In requesting a report detailing any policy, or lack thereof, governing the use of the television cameras that record every municipal board, commission and council meeting, Drayman decried any attempt to harness and control the public airwaves.
“We don’t have rights to the air time as individuals, so I don’t believe I can command the video policy of the city,” he said.
A scenario in which each council member makes individual requests about camera angles in the future could create a confusing and complicated atmosphere in the control room, Starbird said.
Beyond the logistical implications of the request, Councilman Frank Quintero said there was no need to make special concessions for public meetings that have been filmed a certain way — in which a close-up is given to each speaker for the benefit of the audience.
“I don’t know why we want to deviate from what is the norm,” he said.
Weaver and Councilman Bob Yousefian did not comment during the brief discussion.
Mayor Ara Najarian tried to rein in the sarcasm after Howard advised the council to take up the issue, rather than have the mayor make an executive determination.
“I think your point is well taken, and I want to return to the previous policy,” Najarian said.
Still, the prospect of dictating the camera angle while at the microphone was too good for some regular public speakers to pass up.
“When I get up, I’d like the camera to have me look 50 years younger and to look like Marilyn Monroe,” community activist Margaret Hammond said.
The discussion will return once city officials have finished what is expected to be a thin staff report on the issue.
At that time, which Starbird said would be in November, the council may consider creating a policy to oversee the use of the television cameras.
JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.