Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Tennessee Coalition for Open Government (TCOG) Blogs on Hamblen County Government

The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government has a blog post about Mayor Brittain's action in censoring and editing public comments OUT of the videotape of the January 2016 Commission meeting,
Here is the link to the TCOG post:
TCOG supports transparency and open government at all levels.

Hopefully, Mayor Brittain and Chairman Eldridge and those unnamed and so-far "silent" commissioners who want to censor and edit tapes of Hamblen County Commission meetings are having second thoughts.

When you start censoring and editing tapes of public meetings, you are starting down a slippery slope.

When your first censoring and editing adventure is to edit public comments out of tapes of public meetings, you are on the most slippery slope of all! What is next?

Stopping the taping altogether?
Stopping public comments altogether?  
Censoring tapes of public meetings is not just a problem in itself. It is a symptom of a deeper problem and attitude toward the public.

There was never, to my knowledge, any censorship or editing of tapes of commission meetings during the past 12+ years of taping.

Why did Mayor Brittain decide in January 2016 that it was suddenly time to censor and edit public comments out of the tape of the meeting?

First, it's not his meeting.
Second, it's a meeting of a public body and public comments are on the published agenda of that public meeting.

Some commissioners may not like certain members of the public who speak at meetings.
Some commissioners may not agree with some of the public comments that are made at meetings.   
The Mayor may not like some members of the public and may not agree with some of the public comments that are made at meetings.

That's fine. That's understandable.

But that is not a justification for the Mayor and (some) Commissioners to decide to censor a tape of a public meeting in a misguided attempt to get back at those members of the public whom they personally dislike or who express opinions with which the Mayor and (some) commissioners disagree.

This is America. 

Public officials should not be promoting government editing and censorship of tapes of public meetings.

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