Friday, March 18, 2011

Public Notice

I disagree with some conservatives-including one of my best friends- about proposed changes to public notice requirements in Tennessee law:

Many ordinary members of the citizenry would never think to visit some of the websites-such as the Secretary of State or the Office of the Comptroller-on a regular basis to view relevant public notices which might be posted there. A greater concern in the estimation that around 25% of Tennesseans do not have regular access to the internet, and would not so much as have the opportunity to view public notices of meetings and government actions. Limiting public availability of such notices has the effect of limiting the knowledge of the people who might be effected.

An unspoken and often unthought-of concern when dealing with the question of whether internet-only public notice is sufficient for the purpose historical record keeping for future generations. While the internet has many fine historical archives online, these are filled with transcripts or PDF files of hard paper documents. Without original hard documentation, a historical record is incomplete and ineffective for the purpose of an archival file. This is simply because an internet site can be changed much more quickly and less evidently to the average viewer than a paper record. It is also very easy to simply remove a website and all of its contents, but paper records have to be shredded or burnt. Responsible internet archivists, who are performing a great service to people as internet access increases, are intelligent enough to keep hard copies of nearly all of their major information. Posting public information on the internet alone without allowing ready public access to paper copies of the same subject matter endangers the ability of historians to do their future duty to chronicle the public life of early 21st-Century Tennessee, and endangers the availability of public records in the years and decades ahead.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

Some reflection today on Irish heritage:

Today, whether the world understands it or not, we celebrate the man with a vision to bring the message of Christianity to Ireland. The Irish have in turn brought the faith to so much of the rest of the world. Our own heritage as a State and a nation have forever been impacted and our history changed because of Irish and Gaelic influence. Our politics have even been impacted. The English are not a people who are known to have a problem with authority and have a tradition of polite deference, and other ethnic groups who settled our area in the early days, such as the many German-Americans who settled all over the country (including East Tennessee), come from a similar tradition. There isn't anything wrong with that, of course, but whose traits won out in the end? Both the Irish and the Scots are traditionally known for distrust of authority, have an extremely strong aversion to being told what to do, tend to be extremely protective of family members and close friends-almost to the point of nosiness (some of the old timers still call this "clannish"), and if you don't like the way everyone else does it, you can go off and do it your own way.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Look for the Union Fable

Union organizers, or more likely, as the Lieutenant Governor rightly put it, "professional agitators on spring break" had their media day at the Tennessee Capitol yesterday:

The mindset of those who spend most of their time in or around a college campus-especially a public university-is vastly different than those outside of that world, whether students, professors, or staff. Often, it has to be that way. Expectations are different in academia and so are the schedules and the requirements of daily life. A college friend of this writer reflected in a conversation the other day on how we viewed life in university as opposed to how it really is and how we might have done things differently then if we all knew what we know now about the "game of life."
Many of these young protestors, whether at the Capitol in Nashville yesterday or at many of the larger protests in other places, are still living in the campus world. The realities of daily life outside of college, or even what real government (as opposed to the classes they are taking on government and governing theories-yes, I took most of those as well) is like, are still far from their understanding. When they are the ones who have to concern themselves with writing and passing the State budget, the tune they sing is likely to be very different than the one they belt out when they are arrested at the State Capitol for acting like an idiot in public.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More State of the State?

So we've heard the first word on the budget. Is there more?:

Rather than assail Haslam for the seeming copycat approach to government that emanates from his address and budget proposal, we should remember, as was said in this space yesterday, that in no way is Haslam's first word the final one on the budget. Last night's speech was also not, we hope, the last we'll hear from the Governor on the whole matter. It would be nice to hear some explanation as to how he believe his fiscal proposition, which he has stated meets the constitutional requirement of balancing the budget, is not the same as, but is in fact superior to the budgets of the Democrat who preceded him in the office he now holds.

Governor Haslam comes to Jefferson County Friday, March 25th to speak at the Jefferson County Republican Party's Lincoln-Reagan Day. Perhaps we'll hear more from him about the deeper principles behind his budget at that address.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

State of the State

Governor Bill Haslam is about to present his first budget proposal:

A Governor in Tennessee has a fruitless power of veto, one where his or her objection to final legislation can be overridden by a simple majority. In very practical terms, that means that the Governor already knows that it is in his best interest to present a budget which a large Republican majority in a conservative Legislature is going to find to be acceptable. If he does not, that majority is liable to present a final budget in turn that is to their liking, and they have the ability to tell the Governor that they will pass what they like and there isn't a thing he can do about it.

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