A NEW WEBSITE FOR MEMPHIS TAXPAYERS WILL HELP YOU TO KEEP UP WITH WHAT THE POLITICIANS AND DOING AND NOT DOING IN MEMPHIS AND SHELBY COUNTY. ALSO IT WILL KEEP YOU INFORMED ABOUT THE MEMPHIS CITY ADMINISTRATION, THE MEMPHIS CITY COUNCIL,THE SHELBY COUNTY GOVERNMENT AND ALL THOSE THINGS THAT ARE NOT REPORTED IN THE LOCAL MEDIA.Here in Knoxville we have some watchdog-like activity from time to time in local blogs, including the group site KnoxViews, but I haven't seen a statement of purpose quite like Saino's. (Tuesday Update: Coincidentally, while I was typing this blog entry yesterday afternoon, the publisher of KnoxViews was writing up his first on-the-scene crime story, about Monday's bank robbery in Maryville, complete with photos of police on the job.)
The watchdog role of the press is also in the news as a celebration of Sunshine Week... an attempt by news organizations to draw attention to open meeting laws -- and Tennessee's a bill intended to give the state's version sharper teeth.
Michael Silence at the News Sentinel calls this the quote of the day:
Tennessee has sunshine laws not just for state government, but also for local governments. However, those laws have no punishments associated with them. As a parent, I know better than to make rules without consequences. -- Bob Krumm on Sunshine Week
Wearing his other blog hat at Facing South (instead of KnoxViews), R.Neal says:
Somehow, $50 doesn't sound like much of a penalty for a secret meeting between, say, a wealthy developer and a zoning board to grease a multi-million dollar real-estate deal. It wouldn't even amount to much of a tip. But it's better than nothing, and should help raise awareness of the law.
Curiously, the law would not apply to the Tennessee General Assembly itself. According to a legal opinion by the state Attorney General's office, the state constitution prohibits the legislature from passing laws regulating itself.
More editorials and columns about the Tennessee records law:
Government meetings must be open to public
Robertson County Times, TN -
Much has changed since 1974, particularly in the realm of communication, but something that hasn't changed significantly is Tennessee's sunshine law...
Lawmakers say meetings must be open
Clarksville Leaf Chronicle, TN -
Local legislators are applauding a new bill that would bolster the state's open meetings law if passed by the House and Senate. ...
AP moved Trent Siebert's story to papers all over the state, where it ran under various headlines:
Bill would fine officials for meeting in secret
Keeping government fair, open
Knoxville News Sentinel
|Tennessee Sunshine law overhaul is overdue|
We support bipartisan efforts to strengthen Tennessee's Sunshine law...
|Opposition to Sunshine overhaul is misguided|
A state association representing county officials should rethink its opposition to the proposed overhaul of Tennessee's Sunshine Law. ...
Memphis Daily News
Sunshine Law needs to heat up
Daily News Journal
Sunshine Law changes proposed
Law changes would charge officials for secret meetings
Include state legislators under Sunshine Law
Clarksville Leaf Chronicle
For even more, here's a simple search of Google News for Tennessee & Sunshine Week.