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Plug pulled on video stream of Massachusetts Governor's Council meetings

 Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker at an event in Holyoke.
Adam Frenier
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker at an event in Holyoke.

The video camera and giant microphone array are still sitting in the Council Chamber, although the Massachusetts Governor's Council is not using them, and Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday offered to let councilors again borrow his audiovisual "gear" if they decide to resume livestreaming their meetings.

Baker was asked after an event in Holyoke about who made the decision to fade the elected panel's livestream to black. Some councilors said Wednesday that it was Baker's call to reduce public access, and that he pulled back his aides who helped operate the feed, while one councilor alleged her colleagues decided to pull the plug.

Without addressing who made the decision, Baker's initial response was to point to the public's ability to attend in-person the meetings where his judicial nominees are vetted.

"The building's open, people can come in and watch their meetings if they want to," Baker said. He also offered the equipment -- but did not mention if he would again loan his staff, who the council had utilized before March 3.

"If the council — it's an independent branch of government, you know — they don't work for us, believe me, we know that and so do they — if they want to use the gear, that's totally up to them. We have no problem with that, if they want to, going forward," he said.

Baker was in Holyoke, which is nearly a two-hour drive from the State House, and a reporter asked what the governor would say to someone in western Massachusetts who wants to know what's happening at the meetings in Boston.

"We did it for a while," Baker said, "we sponsored [the livestream] for 'em because the building was closed, but they certainly have the ability to do it if they want to, going forward."

Eight groups wrote a letter to the council last week urging them to bring back livestreamed meetings, saying the innovation was a way to connect government with people who can't physically get to the State House, including seniors with mobility issues, people with disabilities, parents with young children, people with elder care and adult care responsibilities, people who can't drive or afford taxis or rideshares, people with chronic medical conditions, and people who just want to know more about their government.