Officials in a small Iowa town who were attempting to ban the recording of public meetings were forced to backtrack after residents raised hell about it.

The proposed ban was in direct violation of the state’s open record law, but West Branch City Council officials didn’t let that stop them from attempting to sneak it through.

Yale Cohn, a regular reader of Photography is Not a Crime, who runs his own television show in Iowa, said he and other residents began talking about the council’s plans on Facebook, which eventually forced the media to question the legality of the plan.

Officials – who proclaimed the reaction to their plans had been “blown out of proportion” – said they were merely trying to discourage citizens from capturing them in a “gotcha” moment.

In other words, they were hoping to keep their stupidity from being shared on the internet.

Instead, they ensured that I would do just that.

According to the Press-Citizen:

On Tuesday night, the West Branch city council was scheduled to review a set of procedural rules that govern how they run their council meetings. Among those 58 rules was one that would have banned electronic devices including “tape recorders, portable phones, video equipment, photography equipment and/or any other electronic devices” in the council chambers before, during or after a meeting unless granted permission by the council. Public notice would also have to be given to council members.

However, after local media reports questioned the legality of the rule, Muckler said he is dropping the proposed rule.

“It won’t be considered moving forward,” Muckler said Tuesday.

Muckler said his intent with the rule was to discourage people coming to council meetings with the goal of creating a hostile environment. Doing so was easier said than done, he said.

The Press-Citizen recently named Cohn one of “10 to watch in 2012.”

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