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. 

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