Boards should be aware that laws on recording vary widely from state to state, and the appropriate state laws should be consulted before making any recordings.
At my past two large-scale associations, board meetings have been audio recorded. The tapes were then given to the secretary who prepared minutes from personal notes and the tapes. At the next board meeting, when the minutes of the previous meeting were approved, the tape was erased.
In another association were I’d worked, the subject of taping meetings was brought up, but it had not been done in the past. I contacted the association’s three attorneys. All three stated that, while a recording would help the secretary prepare more accurate minutes, because of free-flowing discussion and comments that would be recorded, the tape should be destroyed immediately after minutes are approved. When I mentioned to each attorney that certain board members wanted to keep the tapes in perpetuity, the resounding response was, “NO!” A policy was then prepared based on the advise of counsel and was documented in a resolution.
When public meetings are recorded, people are more restrained and make comments more appropriate to the subject matter. They follow the agenda better, and even the angry owner is more reserved. The meetings also tend to be shorter. When meetings are not recorded, people converse endlessly, use harsher language and display more pronounced attitudes. In either situation, if someone makes a slanderous remark, the Board may need to deal with the potential legal issues.
Minutes are a record of actions taken, not a record of conversations. Recording only the actions taken fulfills the legal requirement for record keeping, and that’s the most important thing.
by Walter Lukasik