Rudy doesn't like the sunshineIf there is one thing that I despise more than anything else in public life, it is attempts by people in government to make government less transparent. Nowhere does this phenomenon take place more than in local and city governments. Although reasonable people may disagree about what needs to be public knowledge and what does not, if a public official moseys off with the records from their entire time in city or county government instead of leaving all of those records behind for the benefit of public examination, it ought to send off bright red flashing lights about that person's real performance while in local government-let alone their suitability for higher office.
Apparently, taking the official records of his tenure as Mayor of New York is exactly what Rudy Giuliani did upon leaving Gracie Mansion. Keeping to form, Rudy hasn't been truthful with voters outside New York about his record on open government as mayor:
In a Republican presidential candidates' debate last week, Giuliani asserted: "My government in New York City was so transparent that they knew every single thing I did almost every time I did it. ... I can't think of a public figure that's had a more transparent life than I've had."
But the public record, as reviewed by The Associated Press, shows a City Hall that had a reputation of resistance — even hostility — toward open government, the First Amendment and the public's access to simple facts and figures.
The litany of questions Giuliani has faced in recent weeks about undisclosed business clients and furtive billing practices for police security during trysts with then-girlfriend Judith Nathan are reminiscent of the dozens of lawsuits filed by news organizations to obtain public records, of the numerous state Freedom of Information Law requests that nonprofits like the Coalition for the Homeless were forced to file, of access to City Hall steps denied to protesters.
At times, the number of working water fountains in city parks was hard to ascertain without making a formal request. Under Giuliani, it became more difficult to determine the number of complaints filed against the city's home care program, the number of firearms discharged by police and the number of inspectors in the housing and buildings departments. Even details about the city's recycling program were hard to come by.
Does Rudy Giuliani really believe that Republican voters in the heartland of America-the epicenter of conservative Republicanism-are going to tolerate attempts to pull the wool over their eyes in this way? From the beginning of this all-too-early Primary season, I've been consistent in saying that Giuliani's brand of so-called "Republicanism" may pass muster just fine in New York, but that once the folks out in the country really got a taste of what this man was about his campaign would begin to implode. Not only are his numbers falling, but the plummet comes as people are getting a taste of just how dictatorial a leader Giuliani can be.
In the name of heightened security, Giuliani all but cut off public access to the steps of City Hall, long a civic soapbox. New security cameras scanned anyone entering or leaving the building and kept watch on the grounds. Rules were eased somewhat after a judge found that the city had unfairly restricted access.
We have enough problems in this State with getting our public officials in both major political parties to keep the affairs of government transparent, open, and free. It is a daily battle for citizens who really are concerned about ethics in government to ascertain what is actually happening when the citizenry are not looking. In spite of those difficulties, I have never once heard of public officials in Tennessee closing off public access to a building where the business of a city or county government takes place.
If this is how Rudy runs local government, God help us if he takes the presidential oath.
Labels: Presidential Election