Skubick: The hype about the need for transparency

Everybody talks a good game about the need for transparency until it's politically expedient to ignore it.

It's not the kind of stuff they teach you in civics courses but if there is a tough decision to be made, many times every effort will be used to make the decision in private first where the fur can fly and then trot it out for public consumption sans all the vitriol. 

Which is why, some would argue, Resolution "O", which recently found its way out of a house committee, is not worth the paper it is written upon.

Many good government types have had it up to here with the University of Michigan which has been accused of hiding behind those closed doors to iron out their dirty laundry before going on stage.  The U pleads not guilty.

Because the state constitution grants "autonomy" to the 15 universities, the courts have ruled the Open Meetings Law does not apply to them. Resolution "O" seeks to change that.

But what's good for the goose, etc. Which is why one of the committee members thought it would be a grand idea to apply the same Open Meetings law to the legislature itself.

Oh. Oh.

In recent years, the leadership has ingeniously found a way to circumvent the committee system. For years it was one of the last bastions in the capitol where the media and citizens had a remote shot at seeing a decision in the making.   And don't kid yourself, many times, those rulings were crafted behind closed doors, too.

But now to avoid those kind of public discussions, they've invented the "work group" system. These informal groups are hand picked by the leadership and may not only include legislators but a host of lobbyists and special interest groups that have a stake in the outcome of the debate on this item or that. And if you are a member of the media, just try to get into one of the session.

You can't.

Reality check: You can legislative openness until the cows come home, but before they get home, the cows will find some place in the pasture to do their business out of the view of nosey reporters and citizens who care.

Moo.

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