Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Transparency more than campaign pledge

In Advocacy on November 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm

One of the great ironies of politics is how most candidates in most elections pledge openness, transparency and accessibility during the course of a campaign. Despite those promises, from the courthouse to the statehouse public officials all across the state deliberate the public’s business in private, hide behind executive sessions, orchestrate voting blocs outside of meetings, stall open records requests and the Tennessee General Assembly even exempts itself from the same Open Meeting Act that is binding on local officials. Closed government is poor government regardless of political ideology or party. Voters should take note of all the campaign posturing about transparency in government and when the next General Assembly convenes remind the men and women we have elected of their promises. Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act is good, but not great. Citizens, the media and open government advocates should put pressure on representatives and senators to improve the language in open meetings legislation to define what it means for elected officials to “deliberate” the public’s business outside of an open public meeting. Citizens of Tennessee have every right to always have the expectation that public policy is only being deliberated in open public meetings. The citizens of Tennessee have every right to know not only what decision are reached by elected officials, but how they arrive at those decisions. In addition to the need for more precise language in the act itself, state legislators could prove their commitment to openness in government by enacting legislation that requires the General Assembly itself to be just as open as local government. All government, not just local government, belongs to the governed. 

Tennessee Republican legislators scrutinized for cloaked secrecy in redistricting

In Advocacy on November 2, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Nicholas Kusnetz of the The Center for Public Integrity, as reported on NBC News, has scrutinized state legislatures throughout the nation, including Tennessee, for “cloaked redistricting in secrecy,” as states drafted new district maps for Congress and state legislatures based on the census last year. Kusnetz wrote, “In Tennessee, legislative leaders promised ‘the most open, interactive and transparent’ redistricting process in the state’s history. But Republican leaders did not release any information on the plans until the end of the process, about a week before they adopted the proposals. The party did not release full, detailed maps of state legislative districts until two weeks after the legislature had approved them.”

(For the full report select link above).

Governor announces open budget hearings

In Advocacy on November 1, 2012 at 12:33 am

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will hold state budget hearings for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 on Tuesday, November 6 through Tuesday, November 13. This year the hearings will be held in the Davidson Room on the third floor of the Tennessee Tower in Nashville. Haslam, Finance and Administration Commissioner Mark Emkes and David Thurman, the state budget director, will preside.

The proceedings may be viewed live online at to give Tennesseans that are unable to attend accessibility to the budget discussions of each state agency.

All Central Standard Time. Tuesday, November 6 9:30 – 10 a.m. Safety  10 – 10:30 Tourist Development 10:30 – 11 Military 11 – 11:30  Veterans Affairs 11:30 – 12 p.m. Agriculture 12 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch 1:30 – 2:30 Education 2:30 – 3:30  Environment and Conservation 3:30 – 3:40 Media availability with the governor 3:40 – 4 Break 4 – 5 p.m.  Health  Wednesday, November 7 10:30 – 11 a.m.  Revenue 11 – 12 p.m. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services 12 – 1:30 Lunch 1:30 – 2 Commerce and Insurance 2 – 3  Human Services 3 – 3:30 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation 3:30 – 4 General Services 4 – 4:30 Transportation 4:30 p.m. Media availability with the governor Thursday, November 8 10 – 11 a.m. Children’s Services 11 – 12 p.m. Correction 12 – 1:30 Lunch 1:30 – 2 Education Lottery Corporation 2 – 3 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 3 – 3:30 Finance and Administration 3:30 – 4 Labor and Workforce Development 4 – 4:30 p.m.   Financial Institutions 4:30 p.m. Media availability with the governor