Sunshine Week 2016 (March 13-19) spurs more than the usual reflection this year. Over the years I’ve written countless words about the idea of the people’s right to know – this year seems like a chance to think more than write. The mass confusion in which this democracy is embroiled seems too often at odds with the informed democracy our forefathers envisioned.
The recent death of Martin Olav Sabo brings back thoughts of Minnesota’s open government heritage of which he was a powerful and visionary leader for many decades. Just today I received an email from Mike McIntee, long-time leader of The UpTake. Mike suggests that reflections on Sabo’s legacy will be inspired by this video which The UpTake produced almost a decade ago. I agree. I watched and remembered. http://theuptake.org/2016/03/13/longtime-minnesota-congressman-martin-sabo-dies-at-78/
The beautiful video he shared gives me pause and hope. I’m thinking others might have the same reaction. It’s an oral history of the Minnesota Legislature as members have worked across the aisle to think through the issues and do the good work of governing our state. I hope you will enjoy this as much as I have. Viewing and thinking about the ideas shared here seem an appropriate tribute to Martin Olav Sabo – and the best possible way to celebrate Sunshine Week.
A good news note is that Mike McIntee and The UpTake are being honored as recipient of this year’s John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award sponsored by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information. The award will be presented at their Sunshine Week event on Wednesday, March 16, Noon at the Minneapolis Central Library. The work of The UpTake (http://theuptake.org) is under-recognized; my hope is that this overdue recognition helps Minnesotans understand the power and influence of this unique and powerful resource.
On a contemporary note, Star Tribune columnist James Shiffer offers a great list of FOI issues that need tending to by today’s Minnesotans. Find today’s Sunshine Week column here: http://startribune.com/on-sunshine-week-how-we-can-brighten-our-public-life/371887941/. Emphasis for Sunshine Week 2016 is on passage of and improvement of the Freedom of Information Act, signed on July 4, 1996 by LBJ; the roots of that monumental legislation are evident in the initiatives of progressive Minnesota legislators, including Martin Olav Sabo. Minnesotans need to be engaged in adapting that 50 year old legislation to the reality of the day. We need to think as Sabo did about the public good and the future of the democracy.
The intrepid crew from The Uptake hit its first bump in the transparency world this week when the Edina Chamber of Commerce banned all video and audio recording from Wednesday’s debate between candidates Erik Paulsen and Jim Meffert. Not a major hurdle for the folks from The Update who have covered and shared a daunting roster of candidate forums, debates, town meetings and more during campaign 2010.
When the dust settles it will be interesting to learn just how many miles they’ve covered, camera in hand – From the Clinton visit to Blaine and Obama’s U of M appearance over last weekend to La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles in South Minneapolis, Farm Fest, the rambunctious Oberstar/Cravaak debate in Duluth and scores of other sites. The Uptake crew covers the event live if possible, then records and posts the full program on The Uptake website. They even offer fact check back up that is endlessly illuminating.
Today, Tuesday, The Uptake provides live coverage of the much-vaunted debate between Michele Bachmann and Tarryl Clark taking place in St. Cloud. The enterprising Uptakers suggest that viewers watch the debate live from home or office, then contribute the cost of the gas saved to The Uptake.
At this point in the campaign every Minnesotan is burned out on sound bites and TV spots well-funded by a mix of vested interests. The would-be informed voter might do well to take a breath, settle into an easy chair, and take time to view and listen to the candidates themselves – uninterrupted, on the spot, recorded by The Uptake.
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Posted in Immigrants in Minnesota, Minneapolis, Nonprofits, Open Government, Politics in Minnesota, Things to do in Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN
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