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Vox Hawkeye A Study in the Intellectual Call for Open Government (and How One State Heeded It)
Unformatted Document Text:  Tucker further excoriated the notion that open meetings laws will do anything even minimally effective in "cleaning up" government, noting that, "(t)o the extent that there are shady dealings, open meetings will at most cause a change of venue. . . (b)ecause such a problem is one of human nature, not procedure.” 47 He made a further stab at an empirical understanding of the effects that the federal Sunshine Law had on government agencies by sending out questionnaires to 28 members of 14 federal agencies, such as the Federal Reserve Board, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the FCC. While most of the responses to his questions were couched in self-serving or circumspect language, one general verity that was revealed involved the belief by most respondents that the open meetings act affected their ability to informally discuss their agencies' business, with many noting that the pall cast on their deliberative processes was "significant.” 48 As Tucker noted, such a possible adverse consequence was seemingly heeded by the Supreme Court in NLRB v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 421 U.S. 132 (1975), where Justice White opined that "(h)uman experience teaches that those who expect public dissemination of their remarks may well temper candor with a concern for appearances... to the detriment of the decision-making process.” 49 As history well documents, despite the stark ambivalence within the scholarly community with regard to the source—and sanity—of open meeting laws, the period of the mid-1960s to early-1980s was an active time for states to institute, review and, in many instances, reform laws on this subject. While this particular paper does not require an exhaustive recitation of each state’s experience in this regard, it can still be observed that it was truly remarkable how, in the aggregate, many of these laws effectively reconciled the aims, desires and concerns of all parties to the issue (including many of the academics) as to whether—and to what extent—the government should be open to the governed. For example, many state open meeting and open records laws begin with a very strongly worded purpose statement that the government is the creature of the people and that as such the statute confers a "presumption of openness" 47 Ibid, 544. 48 Ibid, 547. 49 Ibid, 551.

Authors: stepanek, steve.
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Tucker further excoriated the notion that open meetings laws will do anything even minimally 
effective in "cleaning up" government, noting that, "(t)o the extent that there are shady dealings, open 
meetings will at most cause a change of venue. . . (b)ecause such a problem is one of human nature, not 
procedure.
  He made a further stab at an empirical understanding of the effects that the federal 
Sunshine Law had on government agencies by sending out questionnaires to 28 members of 14 federal 
agencies, such as the Federal Reserve Board, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the FCC.  While most 
of the responses to his questions were couched in self-serving or circumspect language, one general verity 
that was revealed involved the belief by most respondents that the open meetings act affected their ability 
to informally discuss their agencies' business, with many noting that the pall cast on their deliberative 
processes was "significant.
    
As Tucker noted, such a possible adverse consequence was seemingly heeded by the Supreme 
Court in NLRB v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 421 U.S. 132 (1975), where Justice White opined that "(h)uman 
experience teaches that those who expect public dissemination of their remarks may well temper candor 
with a concern for appearances... to the detriment of the decision-making process.
As history well documents, despite the stark ambivalence within the scholarly community with 
regard to the source—and sanity—of open meeting laws, the period of the mid-1960s to early-1980s was 
an active time for states to institute, review and, in many instances, reform laws on this subject.  While 
this particular paper does not require an exhaustive recitation of each state’s experience in this regard, it 
can still be observed that it was truly remarkable how, in the aggregate, many of these laws effectively 
reconciled the aims, desires and concerns of all parties to the issue (including many of the academics) as 
to whether—and to what extent—the government should be open to the governed.  For example, many 
state open meeting and open records laws begin with a very strongly worded purpose statement that the 
government is the creature of the people and that as such the statute confers a "presumption of openness" 
47
 Ibid, 544.
48
 Ibid, 547.
49
 Ibid, 551.


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