Yeah, yeah, yeah. Stop your whining.
It’s the middle of March and it snowed. Big deal. It’s winter in Michigan, for crying out loud. And, while I (like you) was gearing up for an unusually early spring, it didn’t happen. Groundhogs be damned, who can trust overgrown rodents anyway? Get over it and focus your attention on something you can have an impact on – that is, open and transparent government.
It is that time of year again when the “enemies of the American people” (read: reporter types and journalists all across these fruited plains we call ‘Merica) tend to shine the line of openness on all levels of government. It is Sunshine Week (March 12-18). During this time, newspapers and others highlight why it is important to keep government actions and dealing open and easily researchable to regular Joes and Joettes (you and me).
It is important for you to tell your elected and appointed government types that you want – no, that you demand they be transparent in their dealings and if they do not open up, then you support local journalists who will shine the disinfecting beams of sunlight into the dark crevasses of their offices and report on what they find.
Why is this important?
Let’s start a list . . . conflicts of interest; preferential treatment; rules and regulations being ignored; meetings being closed unlawfully; and, requests for information being delayed, denied, lost or litigated against, off the top of my head. And, the bugaboo is this isn’t just an issue for the bloated and bureaucratic federal government, this drips on down much more fluidly than trickle down economics, to state, county and local government.
The best way to keep the cockroaches at bay, is to keep the light on and focused on government types. This sunlight keeps the honest ones from being tempted to do something they wouldn’t normally do, and to keep the scoundrels from applying for the job in the first place.
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Did you know Michigan was ranked dead-last in transparency by the Washington, DC, group Center For Public Integrity. While no state in the Union received an “A” grade, Michigan was one of 11 given an “F.” Awesome! No wonder local folks think they can hide from the law, their peers higher up the food chain find it okay to stand behind the old, “business as usual” operational model.
When looking up stuff for this little column of mine I also found this: Michigan is the only state with a full-time legislature and no financial disclosure requirements. Double Awesome, Dude!
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As not to sound like Donny Downer, there are some bits of sparkly goodness I can report on.
One: Your community is lucky to have its own local newspaper with reporters and journalists to assist you in keeping your local government open. (Sometimes you gotta’ do some of the leg work, because we only have a limited amount of reporters, tons of stuff to write about from the entire community and only a limited number of hours in the day to be a reporter and still have time left over for our families.)
So, you got that going for you.
Two: There is a local state representative who was just recognized by the Michigan Press Association (MPA) for his work on government transparency. Here’s the quote from the MPA.
“Representative Jim Tedder (R-Clarkston) a second term representative has been a strong supporter of open government and transparency as well as journalism during his career in Lansing. He is a co-sponsor of a package of bills moving through the House which would remove FOIA exemptions from the Governor’s office and the legislature.
“ . . . These individuals continuously demonstrate their belief that government transparency is important to a strong democracy.”
Personally, Jim has also kept me abreast of efforts to eliminate governments responsibility of posting Public Notices in newspapers since taking office. Thank you, Jim. Keep up the good work and congrats!
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So, what do you say? Do you even care? Want to know more? Do yourself and your family a favor, check out this website for more information: SunshineWeek.rcfp.org
Send you comments to: DontRushDon@gmail.com