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Freedom from information
March 7, 2011 7:24 PM   Subscribe

As despotic regimes fall under the weight of free communication and transparency, the state of Utah takes a step in the opposite direction. The Utah legislature seeks to restrict GRAMA (Government Records and Management Act) by prohibiting disclosure of lawmaker instant messages, cellphone texts, and video chats, while raising the fees for records requests. After being rammed through the legislature on a fast-track last week, then following a resounding public outcry, the bill has been delayed to allow for public input.
posted by pashdown (28 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sure the Tea Party will loudly protest against this authoritarian government outrage.
posted by Avenger at 7:33 PM on March 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, the Senate sponsor of the bill, also said lawmakers moved it quickly to counter “misinformation” about it that he expected the media to spread and make it difficult to pass.

I think the Senator meant "information."
posted by Camofrog at 7:38 PM on March 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Sounds like certain people in Utah have something to hide.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:39 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Instead of stopping the leaks and disclosures from happening this law is just going to make them more high-profile.
posted by fuq at 7:43 PM on March 7, 2011


Nice to see some protest....the way conservatives think, I think that as a long as people who have a R-next to their name are doing it, it's ok. That's the only way TP people can be nostalgic for Bush II.
posted by skepticallypleased at 7:44 PM on March 7, 2011


True story. The five member committee of the Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control had one token non-Mormon for years. The other four would routinely have conference calls discussing this or that. When the token non-Mormon complained in the media, nobody denied it, or even asked anyone for comment, because everyone knew what was going on. That's transparency!
posted by Brian B. at 7:45 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is a nation-wide push to limit and repeal many of the open governments laws passed in the 70s and 80s. Often they try to limit the public access to records concerning public official and law enforcement.
posted by LarryC at 7:48 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


“In Mexico they favor disclosure, not secrecy,” Cuillier said. “In Utah it would be the other way around.”

They actually do.
posted by clavdivs at 7:49 PM on March 7, 2011


The infamous Chris Buttars voted against it. Does that mean I should be for it? I'm kindof confused.

Here's a case for HB477.

I'm not much swayed myself:

*"But compliance is expeeeensive!" is another way of saying we have an information infrastructure problem. *Solve* that problem rather than double down on a system where information is difficult to get out to anybody who's interested.

* Constituent privacy is an interesting issue, but I think I'd rather accept that my communication with elected officials might be a matter of public record than the likelihood that influence from other constituents might remain forever dark. If some information needs to be designated private, then I'm sure there's some way to create a status under which access is controlled by judicial review while preserving information about the existence & gist of said communication, which, after all, is in theory there precisely to shape public process.

* "Fishing expeditions" You don't want to live in a fishbowl, don't run for public office.

* "But the original law didn't envision current technology." The additional e-trails may be a feature, not a bug.

* "No protection of personal email addresses / other online identifiers". I'm actually sympathetic to that one. If lawmakers were willing to accept that the use of personal accounts for conducting official or political business would be verboten (and any violation would trigger complete forfeiture of any privacy related protections), I'd support an exemption for personal accounts. You should be able to have a personal life while you're in public office, it's just your office-related activities that should be open.

Interesting stuff to consider. It would have been nice if the state senate had actually done that before they'd voted for the bill.
posted by weston at 7:58 PM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Often they try to limit the public access to records concerning public official and law enforcement.

Kwame knows.
posted by clavdivs at 7:58 PM on March 7, 2011


Utah pride!

Hell, this isn't even the worst thing they did today.

Wimmer’s HB353 would ensure that doctors morally opposed to abortion could not be fired or punished for refusing to perform the procedure — including in cases of rape or incest.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:03 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]



Sounds like certain people in Utah have something to hide.


It's not even a joke cause doing this is like putting a up a huge sign saying PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LOOK AT MY TEXTS THEY ARE SO CHOICE
posted by The Whelk at 8:32 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah the R's are ramming trough all manner of bassakward stuff from coast to coast... so much for focusing on jobs assholes. Near the bottom of the still going thread on the WI events homunculus posted a link to effective college age voter suppression in New Hampshire.
posted by edgeways at 8:33 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, GRAMPA is taking forever in the bathroom.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:16 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're all working from an identical play book it seems. Governor Rick Scott recently announced he's charging for and making public records requests more difficult in Florida, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:20 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish the Republicans would make up their minds. When they were promoting warrantless wiretapping, they told us we didn't have anything to worry about if we didn't have anything to hide. Now they want to hide, and we're not supposed to question it?
posted by amyms at 9:34 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading about new hampshire trying to limit or block college student voting in state, I'd be interested to see:

What states just got a republican majority or super majority in their houses this 2010 election
What states were close Obama victories (like Indiana, north carolina, florida)
Which of those states are now pushing for more restrictions on voting of 'liberal' demographics
How much money each of those states bill sponsors have taken from the Koch brothers.

Also, there has to be some racketeering or something charge that could be brought up of it's shown that someone is pretty much just buying laws that they want. I realize this happens on a lot of levels, but this is so identical across the board, there has to be like a conference call or project management meeting that is happening. If wikileaks or anonymous would do something interesting, it would be to get the minutes from one of those meetings.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:56 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you lot fucking morons? If I was texting my representative about some issue I wouldn't want it being pawed over in public. Neither would I want the reply being pawed over either.
posted by lilburne at 1:35 AM on March 8, 2011


> Are you lot fucking morons?

Such comments reflect much more on you than on the rest of us, I think.

> If I was texting my representative about some issue I wouldn't want it being pawed over in public. Neither would I want the reply being pawed over either.

Unfortunately for you, you are contacting a public servant. We pay his salary, we elected him, we want to see what he is doing - because public servants have a very bad history of doing very wrong things unless unless they are constantly being exposed to the disinfecting sunlight of openness and publicity.

I'm actually curious - you're contacting a public official - why do you want your comments to be private? Surely you are contacting him on some matter of public interest - you must believe that it's something that most people would agree with you - so why make it private?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:09 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


lilburne corp. - supplying drugs & hookers to government since 1994.
posted by i_cola at 2:56 AM on March 8, 2011


The Koch brothers want their communications with lawmakers to be private too.
posted by lordrunningclam at 4:28 AM on March 8, 2011


Are you lot fucking morons? If I was texting my representative about some issue I wouldn't want it being pawed over in public. Neither would I want the reply being pawed over either.

I agree, I would be horribly embarrassed if my communications with my state senator were ever disclosed.

Dear Senator Harper,

I'm writing to encourage you to oppose State Senator Ketron's proposal to create an alternate Tennessee currency in case there is a breakdown in the Federal Reserve system. He is surely a nutjob.

Thank You,

ghharr

PS, love the hat!

posted by ghharr at 6:00 AM on March 8, 2011


Are you lot fucking morons? If I was texting my representative about some issue I wouldn't want it being pawed over in public. Neither would I want the reply being pawed over either.

You are deeply confused about how government works.
posted by odinsdream at 6:42 AM on March 8, 2011


"As despotic regimes fall under the weight of free communication and transparency..."

Is that how it happens! I always wanted to know.
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:18 AM on March 8, 2011


Brave, freedom-loving Tea Party Republicans in New Hampshire, meanwhile, are now fighting to take the right to vote away from college kids for the reason that they are always "Voting as a liberal. That's what kids do."

Does anyone doubt for even a second anymore that these Key-Stone Fascists would be quite happy to require membership in their party as a condition of citizenship?

And yet, what's the national news obsessing over right now? The fact that an NPR executive was caught unaware in a moment of candor calling a Tea Party guy racist. These self-styled freedom fighters are insisting that a guy can't call someone else racist when he thinks he's in private? What the hell freedom is it exactly they have in mind? It's obviously not freedom of political thought or expression they care about in any shape or form.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:19 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Luckily the media has been screaming about this high and low, making it pretty apparent how much they were trying to hide. A bunch of local journo's filed requests for information covering pretty much everything prior to it being made law, so as to extract whatever they could before it was impossible. They shouted so much that the legislature "postponed" implementing it, meaning they're going to let the outrage fade and then implement it. The scariest thing I read while they were discussing it was that the IT staff for the legislature mentioned, in passing, that it would be "fairly simple to wipe the systems of all this communication, something that could be accomplished in a day or so". Which means they've all but flipped the switch on implementing it. Someone want's something erased.
posted by msbutah at 10:29 AM on March 8, 2011


Scratch that - the governor just made it law.
posted by msbutah at 7:19 PM on March 8, 2011


Herbert signs records bill HB477 after rally for veto and says:

With HB477 now amended, the delayed implementation date allows us to have an open public process with robust, deliberate engagement by the public, the media and lawmakers

But as a friend of my wrote today:

If the Legislature decides to not pass any replacement legislation in a special session, the bill stands. That’s leverage against any changes they don’t like including killing the bill entirely.

This is not how robust and deliberate engagement is done.
posted by weston at 8:15 PM on March 8, 2011


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