Sun
Oct 28 2007
11:58 am

Did anyone see today's editorial from the News-Sentinel about the committee's recommendation to gut the sunshine law? I'd agree that the law does need some clarification as to deliberation vs. discussion, but to say that the solution is to allow up to a quorum to discuss, deliberate, lobby or whatever else is just wrong. This would mean that 9 commissioners could legally get together privately, without any press notification and totally outside the public's view, and decide how to vote on an issue! I can't believe Mike Hammond voted for this!

Do something about this today before it's too late! Send an email to the following four Tennessee legislators . . .

sen.randy.mcnally@legislature.state.tn.us
sen.joe.haynes@legislature.state.tn.us
rep.steve.mcdaniel@legislature.state.tn.us
rep.ulysses.jones@legislature.state.tn.us

. . . and ask them to please dismiss the committee's recommendation to allow up to a quorum to meet privately, and let's get some actual clarification of the law instead of just gutting it.

142
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R. Neal's picture

Also see Mark Harmon's

Also see Mark Harmon's letter here:

(link...)

Bbeanster's picture

Don't waste your time on

Don't waste your time on Ulysses Jones. He's already said he'll sponsor the legislation to gut the sunshine law.

This is one where we'll really miss Steve Cohen in the state Senate.

talidapali's picture

Here's the letter I sent to all of them...

Please do not gut the Sunshine Law by adopting the committee's recommendation to change the language to "quorum" instead of "two or more". The mess here in Knox County was caused by County Commissioners trying to interpret the unambiguous language "two or more" into "quorum" already. We voters are not stupid, when we voted for the Sunshine Law, we knew what "two or more" meant... that's WHY we voted for it. We also voted for term limits here in Knox County, but the commissioners were more interested in protecting their status quo than in following the will of the voters; which is why this whole mess wound up in court in the first place. We are tired to death of politicians that ignore what we, the voters, actually TELL them with our votes about how we want our government to work for us! After all, this is SUPPOSED to be a government of the people, by the people, and FOR the people... not of the politicians, by the politicians, and FOR the politicians. It is long past time that all politicians stop triangulating on issues and just start listening. This is NOT a partisan issue, although some seem to be trying mightily to make it so. There is more than enough hot air floating around these days, please LISTEN, instead of trying to come up with clever sound bites to explain why once again politicians are trying to TELL us what we want rather than listening to what we are telling them we do, in fact, want and need.

Thank you,

I even sent it to Jones in the hope that if he receives enough letters that oppose the changes that he will react like a politician and lean the way the wind is blowing.

_________________________________________________
"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

jbr's picture

All the email addresses to

Looks like the subcomittee said: "Hmm this here Sunshine Law thing really works. We gotta do something about that."

All the email addresses to Tenessee Legislature are here.

(link...)

Just click on Senate and House in left hand column.

Some other folks that might be interested and offer publicizing the attempt and help fight it

Sunshine Week (national initiative. Knoxville makes front page)
(link...)

60 Minutes
(link...)

Open Secrets
(link...)

ACLU
(link...)

Washington Post
(link...)

reform4's picture

Looks like I'll be on the

Looks like I'll be on the phone today.

The last thing we need is 9 commissioners getting together in secret to trade votes, and then holding another meeting with ANOTHER 9 commissioners in secret to get the majority.

I like Mike's support of civil penalties. Perhaps we need to enact that reform, along with a clear definition of "deliberation." Allow multiple Commissioners to meet with constituents to gather information, but not to discuss between them. That seems pretty simple.

Mike had a good point about the fact that we have two commissioners from each district, and they may need to brief each other on a meeting or conversation with a constituent that one of them had. But can't they do that with a written public memo? That would fall under "information gathering" and not deliberation- a memo or e-mail being a "one way" conversation. As long as the other Commissioner didn't respond to that email/memo, and the memo was publicly available via web/blog or written request, the intent of the OMA would be met.

Thoughts?
-----------------------------------------
Fighting for Reform and Representation, Fourth District
Steve Drevik, Commission Seat 4-B
(link...)

R. Neal's picture

Seems to me like the

Seems to me like the Sunshine Law only needs a couple of tweaks:

1. Define "deliberation" for the dummies.

2. Spike the fines and penalties for violations.

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