What constitutes ‘Open Government’

News and opinion from a retired, pool-playing libertarian conservative

What constitutes ‘Open Government’

My second priority as Mayor of Nashville is to open government.

My first, defeating the Transit Taxes, will already be accomplished when I’m elected, unless a growing list of candidates for city office are misreading the tea leaves.
A lot of politicians talk about open government, or “transparency,” but how many of them actually practice it?  (Answer at end of column. Don’t cheat.)
I will practice open government. And, I expect you to hold me to that. That means I intend to allow the public and the press to look over my shoulder while I conduct business. I want to work from a work-space that looks very much like my old TV newsroom, which you see in this picture
from my days as news director, anchor and reporter at WGEM-TV in Quincy, IL.
I have advocated for more information, not less, all my life, and that doesn’t stop just because I’m on the other side of the microphone or camera.
If I’m conducting business as Mayor, in person, or on the phone, about Nashville, if I don’t want you to hear it, maybe I shouldn’t be doing it. Heck, I might eliminate as much mayor “work” as I do campaign fundraising by refusing to do public business in private!
By the way, as an aside, that camera that you see in this picture was the “portable” cameras and tripods we used, along with a recorder the size of a small suitcase, and weighing about 25 pounds. The total weight of all that portable equipment was around 60 pounds.
Today, I can get nearly as good video from a smartphone I carry in my hip pocket, and keep the camera/recorder steady with a tripod the weighs about a pound. And, I edit it with free software anyone can download on their computer. And, I can do all that for less than 1% of the cost of the “portable” equipment we used then. I haven’t even mentioned the video editor, which was so big (and expensive) it required its own room behind the door you see in the back.
The only thing that story has to do with “open government” is that I believe the high cost of government is primarily fueled by too much secrecy in government business practices that I’m going to end in Nashville when I’m mayor.
Finally, the answer to the question at the beginning of this column is “I don’t know.”  Just because I haven’t seen one yet doesn’t mean they don’t exist.