Thursday, February 10, 2005

Protect Open Government

Following up on earlier comments and Red State Rabble's suggestions.

Letters should be sent to editorial boards, legislators, the Dept. of Ed, and the relevant board members.
Editors should get something like:

The fact that the Attorney General and six members of the Board of Education thought they could skirt state open records laws is disgusting. There are numerous open forums and publicly announced opportunities for the Attorney General to offer legal counsel to the Board without the contortions he went through to sneak around the law. The members who accepted his invitation to illegal meetings should resign in disgrace, and the Attorney General should retire or be censured for his disrespect of the laws he is supposed to protect.


Legislators should get a little more meat about how the law was violated. The Department and Board only need complaints about the Board. They should add that there are credible questions being raised about the process that generated the minority proposal, whether a “serial meeting” of Board members approved or discussed that proposal and whether a “serial meeting” of the science standards committee occurred.

Legislators and the Department should get a demand for a full and independent investigation of these questions.

Sample letters:

For the Board:

The fact that you and five other members of the Board of Education thought you could skirt state open records laws is disgusting and disappointing. There are numerous open forums and publicly announced opportunities for the Attorney General to offer legal counsel to the Board without the contortions the seven of you went through to sneak around the law. The Board members who accepted the invitation to illegal meetings should resign in disgrace.

Furthermore, the Board should establish an external review of the process that generated the minority proposals in the science standards committee. Credible questions have been raised about the degree to which those too might be products of serial meetings among committee members and Board members. Until that review is completed, the six members already tainted by scandal should recuse themselves from all business.


For the Legislature:

The fact that the Attorney General and six members of the Board of Education thought they could skirt state open records laws is disgusting. There are numerous open forums and publicly announced opportunities for the Attorney General to offer legal counsel to the Board without the contortions he went through to sneak around the law. The legislature should stand up for the laws it passed and hold public hearings into any possible conspiracy between the Attorney General and the majority of the State Board of Education to evade the Open Meeting Act.

Our schools should be administered as an example to the children. That the Board broke the rules sets a bad example. Whether they violated the law or not, the Attorney General and the Board of Education cheated, and children should be taught to follow the spirit of the law, not to exploit loopholes or the meaning of “is.”


For the Attorney General:

As the chief law enforcer of this State and an occasional advocate of open government, you should be ashamed of your half-hearted excuses about your illegal serial meetings with members of the Board of Education. Copious public meetings exist when you could share your legal opinions with them in a way that followed the spirit and letter of the law. Instead, you abused your status and the law. I ask that you call for an independent investigation by the legislature and an investigator of the governor's choice to determine whether you violated the law or your professional obligations. I also ask that you step aside from all official business connected with the schools until this situation is fully and publicly investigated and resolved.


While out of state letters would be appreciated, in state letters would be most influential.

Red State Rabble has Board and AG addresses. Here's how to find your state representatives and senators.

Here are some editorial page addresses.

Kansas City Star

Lawrence Journal World

Topeka Capitol Journal

Wichita Eagle

Salina Journal

Johnson County Sun Note that this form is for the online forums. Letters for publication must be mailed or called in at (913) 381-4884.

The Pitch Weekly (KC's alternative weekly)

Other papers? Put it in the comments, and I'll add to the list. Also, post any published letters. Let's track the response.