Sunday, February 8, 2015

SB1435: Evidence that Republicans do not believe in democracy

What's the evidence? The answer is in two parts. First is the introduction of a bill, SB1435, that would effectively destroy the state's open meeting law. Here is the story from the Sierra Vista Herald.

The issue we’re writing about today is as close to an assault on American freedoms as those individuals our military is asked to seek and eliminate.

Last week will be remembered as the sounding bell for public freedom of information in Arizona. With the introduction of a bill at the State Capitol by a Republican legislator endorsing the effective elimination of the Open Meetings Law. The law as it was adopted in 1962, intended to provide a balance between our elected representatives and the transparency and public participation in which decisions are made. This new legislation, SB 1435, creates the opportunity for absolute power, allowing the decision making process and the vital discussion leading up to it, shuttered from public view.

Arizona bleeds so much Republican red that the party controls the state house like Apple owns the computer market. That kind of authority, with dominating majorities in every committee, office and commission in the state, is a good way to concentrate power.

... Earlier this month, Republicans closed the doors to the party caucus. House Rule 36 gets in the way of "family business," as Scottsdale Rep. John Allen explained to an angry Phoenix media last month.

Now State Sen. Sylvia Allen of Snowflake has introduced legislation, SB 1435, to render the state’s Open Meeting Law useless.

The impact of this bill across the state would be chilling. Public discourse on every issue that involves every resident could be decided behind closed doors, with no public notice or input. Soldiers serve in our military to defend our liberties and uphold the fundamental principles of our democracy, which includes an open government that is accountable its citizens.

Public meetings without significant advance public notice, opportunity for the public to speak, with complete and accurate reporting, is an invitation to corruption, plain and simple. Without accountability to the public, there is no accountability — a basic hallmark of America.

The second part of the evidence will be when, or even if, this travesty is brought to a vote. How will our elected legislators handle this one?

Mark the first days of February, 2015, as the warning bell. We are now watching the Republican Party of Arizona, the dominant majority of our State Capitol, decide whether there is good reason to consider the merits of the legislation offered by Sen. Allen. Now, it’s just a political game in a lion’s den.

Not voting for this crap is a low bar. Any legislator and every newspaper editor should be clamoring for this bill's withdrawal.

Silence is the enemy. We share a responsibility to stand up and show we will not stand for closed public meetings. We will not be quiet and lazy, we will write, speak, talk and ring the bells to let people know that we treasure the responsibility of citizenship and having elected officials work for the people not themselves.

Keep those meeting doors open and ring those church bells by letting your representatives know ‘The people’s business’ is not to be done behind closed doors and without citizen participation.

Scriber will track this one. You should too.

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