Friday, November 02, 2007

The disinfectant of sunshine

Michael Silence has justifiably put out the clarion call for bloggers to take the lead in pushing the Tennessee General Assembly to reform the Open Meetings Act so that we have greater openness in government, not less. This is in the face of criminal State Sen. Ulyses Jones (D-Memphis) making an attempt to gut our State's laws regarding open public meetings.

Silence has suggested that Tennessee's blogging community respond appropriately.

Everyone that I have personal contact with who is on the Hill is opposed to any kind of change that would make State and local government less transparent. That doesn't mean that there are not legions of people who are trying to do just that. It behooves Ulyses Jones to want a less open government since bribery is an activity that he obviously finds to be acceptable behavior. This sudden move toward less open government in the wake of the Sunshine Law trial in Knox County ought to make us ask the question: How much of this reaction is due to the growing influence of the blogosphere?

Yes, it is true that we who write blogs tend to have an over-inflated perception of the importance of what we do. That's especially true in Tennessee, where there is a massive proliferation of political bloggers compared to other States and locations around the world. That tendency we have to strut ourselves from time to time doesn't take away from the reality that what political bloggers do is important in a time when people are demanding greater accountability in government, and bloggers often shine light on abuses where they need to be found. We are fortunate in Tennessee to have two State legislators (Representatives Stacey Campfield and Susan Lynn) who have blogs and who use the medium to expose what they see as wrong and share their views with us.

If you don't think there are people in Nashville (and for that matter, Washington) who would like to shut bloggers up, or at least keep us out of the information loop, then you truly are naive. The government does not like bloggers having greater access to information, lest bloggers do what the mainstream press will not-shine the light on them.



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