A News & Observer reporter was temporarily denied entry today to public meetings of the state Board of Transportation after two security officers said they were told the department's public information office had to be notified before any reporters could enter.
"Anything that has to do with the newspapers, TV, media we have to call (the office) before we can let you go back there," one of the security officers said.
The state's public meetings laws state that "each official meeting of a public body shall be open to the public, and any person is entitled to attend such a meeting."
There is nothing in the law that allows public agencies to delay someone's attendance until public information officers are notified.
Ernie Seneca, the department's chief public information officer, said the policy was not intended to bar or intimidate reporters trying to cover public meetings. He said the intent was for security officers to give his office a "heads up" when reporters enter the building.