Transparency organizations raise concerns about Uniform Law Commission’s redaction initiative

A letter from government transparency organizations urges the Uniform Law Commission to prioritize the public’s right to know when it studies the redaction of personal information from public records.  The June 17 letter was written by Sarah Brewerton-Palmer, legislative chair of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, and was edited and endorsed by Todd Fettig, the…


Police body-camera footage: Too redacted, too costly, too delayed, transparency experts say

Body-cameras, heralded as a technology to enhance police transparency, haven’t done enough to ensure the public’s right to know, because agencies often heavily edit the footage. Not only does such editing obscure the footage, it also adds substantial costs and delays. That’s according to transparency experts and advocates who spoke to the Daily Memphian for…


Lucian Pera named new president of TCOG

Memphis attorney Lucian Pera is the new president of the nonprofit Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, a nonpartisan group seeking to improve access to public information and open government, according to a news release.

Pera is a partner with the Memphis office of Adams and Reese LLP, and has been on TCOG's board of directors since 2007. He has been vice president since 2010. Adam Yeomans, Associated Press Regional Director for the South, was elected vice president.


Can’t get a public record? Advocate says, ‘Write about it.’

An advocate for open records and open meetings in Tennessee said Tuesday that state and local agencies often broaden protections that don’t apply to them, and citizens and the media should keep them accountable.

Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, spoke to local media and East Tennessee State University journalism students on the issue of open records and open meetings laws as part of the agency’s educational program.


Texting during public meetings raises questions

Drivers caught texting in Tennessee face fines up to $50, while those who use cellphones in classrooms or courtrooms may be forced to hand them over. Texting during church service is generally a no-no and considered down-right rude while dining with friends.

So, is it proper for lawmakers to converse with one another, their family or constituents via text during a public meeting? The answer appears to depend upon the message, open government proponents say, although getting to the message is quite another problem.


Guest View: Transparency not Republican, not Democrat

Openness in government is not a liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, Independent, TEA party or Libertarian issue. The importance of transparency in local, state and federal government should transcend parties and political ideologies.

Checks and balances provide few checks and little balance when officials broker deals behind closed doors and conceal documents that contain important information that citizens have the right, and often the need, to know.


State Launches “Transparent Tennessee” Website

Governor Bill Haslam on Thursday announced the launch of “Transparent Tennessee,” an overhaul of the state’s transparency website to offer more user-friendly information online to Tennessee taxpayers.

Transparent Tennessee is a one-stop shop for searching public data on how state dollars are spent. The site includes a searchable checkbook with more interactive data related to state agency expenses, vendor payments and travel reimbursements.


Deborah Fisher: Should execution drugs be a state secret?

From Tennessee Coalition for Open Government: Does the public have a right to know about the drugs used to execute death row inmates?

This question has been raised in recent months in court in at least three states, two of which recently enacted new laws or protocols to keep secret from citizens the source of execution drugs.

In 2011, at least six states, including Tennessee, had their execution drugs seized or taken by the DEA after it became clear that the drugs had been imported illegally.


Fisher becomes executive director of open government group

From Tennessee Coalition for Open Government: NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government has named Deborah Fisher as its new executive director.

The Tennessee Coalition for Open Government is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational organization begun 10 years ago to preserve, protect and improve citizen access to public information and open government in Tennessee.


Tennessee open records advocates fear impact of court ruling

From NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Transparency advocates are warning about the ramifications of a recent Tennessee appeals court ruling that “high government officials” can keep documents secret if they deem them part of their decision-making process.