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Archive for November, 2013|Monthly archive page

Court ruling could threaten government transparency, AP’s Schelzig reports

In Advocacy on November 11, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Erik Schelzig, a longtime government watchdog with the Associated Press, is reporting the angst of transparency advocates regarding a Tennessee higher court ruling that could have ripple affects related to open government across the state.

Schelzig reported, “The court upheld a lower court’s ruling that then-Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration was justified in denying the release of records on the basis that they were part of the ‘deliberative process,’ about how to deal with demonstrators encamped in the state Capitol in 2005 to protest cuts to TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program,” (Nashville Tennessean, Nov. 10, 2013).

He added that the ruling “endorsed the argument that ‘advice high governmental officials receive be protected from disclosure’ because those officials need to be able to speak freely and confidentially with trusted advisers.”

One open government advocate called the ruling “an assault on open government.” The report also includes statements from Tennessee Press Association attorney Rick Hollow, TPA public policy director Frank Gibson and others who expressed concerns over how far the courts might extend  or interpret the ruling in the future by invoking a “deliberative process privilege.”

Tennessee newspapers, open government advocates and watchdog groups need to begin speaking out about this new twist on government transparency in order to stave off future loose interpretations of this ruling that could be used to further conceal the people’s business from the people of Tennessee.

Fisher named TCOG Executive Director

In Advocacy on November 8, 2013 at 11:06 pm

The Tennessee Coalition of Open Government has named Deborah Fisher its new executive director to replace former director Kent Flanigan. She served as an editor at the Nashville Tennessean and was previously the editor of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

A more complete report can be found on Knoxblogs.com at:

Deb Fisher to head TCOG

debfisherDeborah Fisher, former senior editor at the Nashville Tennessean, will be the new director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. TCOG is a non-profit organized to fight for transparency in government and to educate Tennesseans about its importance.

Deb had been at the Tennessean for the past decade but got caught in the most recent round of layoffs. Before that, she’d been with the E.W. Scripps Co., which owns the News Sentinel, serving as editor of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. She’s a graduate of Baylor University.