Monday, July 24, 2006

University Aims To Censor Public Meetings

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.


  1. Seems to me that a guerrila information plan needs to be hatched. Get some people in those meetings with webcams and laptops and stream that bad boy.
    See if they'd kick you out for recording the thing yourself.

  2. The sad reality, AT, is too few county residents have access to or make use of the internet.

    And why shouldn't the city/county/school system help improve that too by offering streaming video themselves?

    But you make a great point - what would happen if I or anyone tried to cover these meetings?

    What truly astounds me is that the cable companies provide all kinds of help, but the university is the one hindering broadcasts. Makes zero sense to me!

  3. It seems like so much 'trickle down' theory of doing everything in secrecy these days.
    Thanks Mr Cheney! You've taught us well..

  4. Brother Mike5:05 PM

    As a friend of mine continually advises me, the trouble with a democratically elected government is that the people get the kind of government they deserve

  5. hmmm...

    so if the majority of eligible voters don't participate, then those who are elected will serve the masters who placed them in office and not citizen welfare?

    yeesh! what a frickin' mess we've made of our Democracy.

  6. Whatever happened to the State of Tennessee's Sunshine Law? It appears to me that both WSCC and Hamblen County/Morristown could be in violation of such law if they are cutting off the public's right to know about the business being performed by their public officials.