Governor to public: You’re not invited to my community meeting today

source https://arktimes.com/arkansas-blog/2020/12/09/governor-to-public-youre-not-invited-to-my-community-meeting-today

Saline County resident Wayne Beech confronts @AsaHutchinson about the closed meeting. The governor says meetings concerning his office or not subject to FOIA laws #ARNews#ARpxpic.twitter.com/sOZYYSTC6g

— Shelby Rose (@KATVShelby) December 8, 2020

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Governor Hutchinson will hold another meeting on COVID-19 today in Springdale, but he’s making clear today what he didn’t make clear before the first meeting yesterday in Benton — these are not public meetings.

Monday, he’d described a series of meetings this week as “community meetings.” No limits were announced, except to say the governor’s events followed guidelines on social distancing and wearing masks. As it turned out, the media was excluded after an opening statement in Benton as were members of the public, to the unhappiness of at least one person denied admittance who was interviewed by KATV.

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So these are NOT community meetings. Instead, they are meetings with “community leaders,” mayors and such. Yesterday’s meeting apparently produced enough negative feedback that the governor retreated from a plan to announce a rule requiring Health Department clearance for gatherings of more than 10 people.

The meeting today is at the Jones Center in Springdale at 10 a.m. Here’s how it’s pitched today, with my emphasis:

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Governor Asa Hutchinson will hold a meeting this morning with community leaders in Northwest Arkansas to focus attention and develop local action plans to fight the current surge of COVID-19 in Arkansas. There will be a media availability following the meeting.

The meeting is by invitation only and not open to the public.

Thanks for the media availability, governor. A transcript of the meeting would be better, so that the community might know what their leaders said, rather than having it edited by you.

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