Efforts to limit public information about government business remains a constant and sadly few local residents even know - a sure sign the plan to restrict access works. Walters State Community College has decided to not only abandon civic duty, their plan to limit airtime for Hamblen County Government meetings also reduces efforts to educate the population on policies and procedures.
The broadcasts of these meetings has zero importance to City Government as well, who have successfully avoided airing their own meetings despite designating a local cable channel for Government and Education in the mid-1990s. They won't expend one penny for responsible government, not one penny for public education on governmental workings, and they insure more roadblocks to an educated community.
Oddly, the city did approve of a nearly $20 million expenditure in a public bond to finance the local electric utility's venture into the cable and internet business.
As for Walters State, they totally control the channel and offer endless self promotion clips and short educational videos from decades long, long past.
The problem is that WSCC will only allow for two hours of air time for a meeting, for a total of four per week. Meanwhile local cable providers consistently offer their services to residents. Comcast Cable will continue to present the meetings uncensored and in their entirety. While Charter Communications worked with county government to provide equipment to record the meetings, the city quietly handed off their control of the channel to WSCC - and WSCC just snips the broadcast off after two hours, whether the meeting is over or not.
If the university only wants to allow for four hours per week for civic broadcasts, then why not place the meetings on a single day, capturing all that happens?
County Commissioner Linda Noe has more info on her blog about the county likewise approving a plan to cut the broadcasts to fit in the time allotted, though they did mention an effort to convince the university to fulfill their obligation to education by not censoring broadcasts.
This unified effort by city officials, who have steadfastly refused to televise their meetings, and by WSCC, has a single result - a poorly educated and informed public. Keeping citizens in the dark, keeping the community's business hidden appears to be the goal.
Their is an opportunity to not only provide civic education, but also provide training for high school or college students who yearn for careers in television broadcasting. Some straightforward communication between the city, the university and the county, as well as the county's education system could benefit everyone.
Limiting access to public information appears to be the pattern officials endorse.