The Press blocked some important rays of Sunshine in Sunday’s newspaper. This happened in their headline story about Sunshine Week, which celebrates the public’s right to get information about our government. Reporter Alecia Warren wrote the article with a noticeable and heavy slant toward the Democrat party.
She began with a description of Tammy Polestra’s dad and his military service, mentioning for no related reason, that Tammy belongs to the Kootenai Democrats. Why is this fact important Alecia? It had nothing to do with the story, which focused on public access to government.
Then Alecia wrote about the local Democrat group’s opinion of Sunshine Week, quoting another citizen specifically labeled as a Democrat, who slipped in a gratuitous partisan insult against the Bush administration.
Alecia’s bias continued as she quoted George Sayler, the only area legislator from the Democrat party. Finally, toward the end of her long article, she included a comment from one Republican. Balanced? Fair? Hardly.
All in all the article was a very partisan effort to honor Sunshine Week, something that is not partisan in any way. Sunshine is not Democrat or Republican or Libertarian. It is the right of all of citizens to know what our government is doing, and it has nothing to do with one political party or another.
Democrats certainly do not have a corner on Sunshine efforts. In fact, in our part of the world, many of those obstructing justice and blocking citizens from open information are members of the Democrat party.
Take, for example, elected Kootenai County Clerk, Democrat Dan English. He is currently part of a coalition of folks playing hard-to-get with information about the last local election. Dan was in charge of running the election but when asked last week by a Krem 2 news reporter about some fraudulent voters, he could not come up with an answer. The news showed evidence of one voter who lied about her address and others who live outside the country, but Dan English gave no assurance to citizens that he is motivated to root out the problems and clean up the system.
Another example of Democrats as part of the problem, is Thom George, who is a top official in the Kootenai County Democrats. Thom regularly goes on local internet blogs viciously attacking any citizens who dare to question the city council or LCDC. And Democrat Representative George Saylor staunchly defends LCDC and all they do, even supporting new legislation that decreases the level of public disclosure required of board members.
Is it fair to criticize only President Bush when the Obama administration has not lived up its many promises of transparency? Mr. Obama said health care negotiations would be on C-Span, and that important legislation would be on the internet 5 days before any vote, so everyone could read it and weigh in with their opinions. He said there would be no more secrecy or closed door deals. How’s that working, Alecia? We didn’t get any of it. Instead we have back room bribes, the Corn Husker Kickback, Louisiana Purchase and late night votes. We have bills too big to read pushed by politicians too corrupt to believe. President Obama’s promises for open government have fallen completely flat.
So, let’s not get off course with this Sunshine thing, There are good and bad people in every political party, but Sunshine Week is about citizens of all persuasions asking, and receiving, open information from our government.
Not only did Alecia Warren slant her article in favor of her political party, but she failed to highlight the historic Sunshine war for public information going on right now in our town.
Citizen Jim Brannon and his attorney Starr Kelso are fighting the City of CdA, Kootenai County and the Judicial system to get basic public information about last November’s local election. This is an unprecedented struggle for Sunshine documents in an effort to check the accuracy of our election process. Judge Benjamin Simpson ruled that Jim will have to pay a $40,000 bond to continue his legal challenge, a decision which effectively blocks any realistic future for the effort. Now the judge says he might rethink that price tag, but we won’t know for sure until the end of the month.
Meanwhile, the public’s election documents stay hidden away, even though a whole list of improper and /or fraudulent voters have been identified and verifiable evidence has been produced. This is a mega-Sunshine issue, Alecia, for all voters!
Fair and accurate elections should the the NUMBER ONE priority of every citizen, every voter and every elected official. There can be no more important ray of Sunshine than that which proves that every single vote has a legal voter. Without this assurance, no government action, no amount of disclosure or information will matter; the integrity of our election system is the foundation upon which all of our freedoms are built.
Have a great Sunshine Week! --Mary
PS: One of my readers created a great political cartoon about the CdA Election Challenge, with Judge Simpson, Jim Brannon and a cast of characters. It’s posted over on OpenCdA.com, and you can see it by clicking on this link: