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Green Bay Common Council members reveal when they discovered about audio surveillance at City Hall

surveillance signage.jpeg
Posted at 10:15 PM, Feb 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-21 00:35:44-05

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Green Bay Common Council members are revealing to NBC 26 when they discovered about audio surveillance at City Hall.

As we've been reporting, microphones were installed in City Hall's security system between winter of 2021 and summer of last year.

It was something that wasn't brought up publicly until District 8 Alderman Chris Wery spoke up at a Common Council meeting on Feb. 7.

Wery voiced concerns over recording devices at City Hall.

"It's disgusting, and you know, Big Brother is listening," Wery said during the meeting. "And, we the people are not amused."

Now, NBC 26 has learned that several Council members did not know of the devices until very recently.

"I just never thought that that would be a possibility that we were being recorded," District 11 Alderman Melinda Eck said. "Considering the conversations that we have outside the Council Chambers on break, before, after, are very private."

Eck and District 10 Alderman Mark Steuer say they are disappointed about the transparency of the issue.

Both say they learned about the security system from Wery after the last Parks Committee meeting on Jan. 25.

"I was shocked, almost that he was kidding," Eck said.

"I was kind of surprised, stunned a little bit," Steuer said.

District 7 Alderman Randy Scannell says he found out when Wery brought it up at Council, and was surprised.

But he says he's rather unhappy about what the surveillance is being used for.

"I was disappointed that people are behaving so badly at City Hall, that their staff feels a need for security, this kind of security," Scannell said.

Scannell says City Hall's surveillance system is not there to spy on people.

"That's a lot of hooey," Scannell said. "Spying is done with intent. There's no intent here."

District 1 Alderman Jennifer Grant told NBC 26 last week she found out about the recording devices on Nov. 8 last year, the day of the midterm election.

Council members William Morgan, Bill Galvin, Craig Stevens, Brian Johnson, and Jesse Brunette tell us they discovered about the audio surveillance when Wery brought it up at Council.

Last week, the City posted surveillance signage on City Hall's first and second floors.

Steuer says city employees supposedly received an email saying recording devices were installed over safety purposes.

However, he says he hasn't received that information.

"We still have yet to see that email," Steuer said.

Both Steuer and Eck, who are on the Parks Committee, say that the audio surveillance issue is going to be brought up at the next Parks Committee meeting on March 1.

A Wisconsin State Senate attorney claims City Hall's audio surveillance system is illegal, and has threatened legal action.

But the City has said its security system is "lawful and commonplace."