Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bring It On

Posted By on Tue, Mar 25, 2008 at 3:55 PM

click to enlarge 123046__bring_it_on_l.jpg
The Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR), staffed by two of our Brandon's buddies, Drew Johnson and Trent Seibert, filed a petition in Davidson County Chancery Court today against Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration (F&A) public information officer Lola Potter and other state officials for ignoring the Tennessee Open Records Act. We'll have the full press release after the jump. But in summary, the right-leaning think tank is irritated by having to wait nine months on one request for correspondence between F&A Commissioner Dave Goetz and other agency officials. We repeat: one measly request. That's the kind of info TCPR should have received in a matter of weeks—and we're being overly generous at that. And with that, Pith rips off its shirt, cracks its knuckles and steps in the ring. Oh, it's on, all right. It is so on. After our previous Pith post calling out spokespeople, and now today's petition, it's go time. We the hacks are taking on you the flacks. We're like Patrick Swayze in Road House—nice until it's time not to be nice. Guess what time it is. Now I'm not going to lie to you. We're in for a fight. The flacks who represent the so-called public interest won't abandon their languid ways anytime soon. So we're going to have to fight hard for change. Are you with me? We're going to have to fight to receive easily accessible public documents within two weeks. We're going to have to fight to get a simple phone call returned. We're going to have to fight to be able to have a conversation with a spokesperson where occasionally we hear something approaching the English language, and not just the tired, empty rhetoric of spin. We may not be in power, and maybe we're not always on the same page. But though we are many, we are one and we will not stop—we will not stop—until flacks everywhere do their job. Except, you know, after 3:30 or so. We leave early sometimes to go hiking. OK, I'm done. Tennessee Center for Policy Research Takes F & A to Court for Public Records State agency delays public record request relating to budget more than nine months NASHVILLE – After waiting nine fruitless months for a public records request to be fulfilled, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has today filed a petition in Davidson County Chancery Court against Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration (F & A) Public Information Officer Lola Potter and other state officials for failing to comply with the Tennessee Open Records Act. The petition asks the court to force the release of the requested information. The Tennessee Open Records Act was created to allow Tennessee residents to hold state and local government accountable to those they serve by making documents publically available. “Waiting more than nine months for public records is unreasonable and directly conflicts with the ideals of an open, transparent government,” Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson said. The Nashville-based free market think tank filed the petition after observing a troubling a pattern by F & A and Potter of delaying and ignoring public records requests. One request, for correspondence relating to F & A Commissioner Dave Goetz and other agency officials, was submitted on June 14, 2007. The bulk of this request remains unfulfilled. Another request, made in December 2007, asking to view correspondence sent to and received by State Architect Mike Fitts has been entirely ignored by Potter. “We don’t know why Ms. Potter is dragging her feet on these requests for public information,” Johnson said. “It could be that she doesn’t take the Tennessee Open Records Act seriously or, perhaps, the Department has something to hide.” Since Gov. Phil Bredesen and Commissioner Goetz have been clear about their commitment to open government and open records, Johnson said he believes they must not know that Ms. Potter has performed so poorly in her duty to fulfill open records requests. According to Johnson, “The Governor’s response to this blatant violation of the Open Records Act by an employee in his administration will be a clear sign of how committed he is to running a transparent, accountable government.”

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