My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ACLU against restrictions on public officials' blogs

Note: In the continuing discussion about whether School Committee should have blogs, the Gazette has a front page story today about a letter by the ACLU supporting the rights of elected officials to have blogs. The entire text of the letter (which I would say includes a strong defense) is available within the article.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


TomG said...

"DeCharia, the letter's primary author, said school committee members are merely looking for guidance about rules relating to blogs."

Rules? The primary author did not cite an example of how the blog was used to hold a meeting with a quorum that did not meet all of the other requirements stated in the open meeting law. So how the heck does he claim to be asking for a ruling? (Which he is.)

The guidance DeCharia alleges to seek is an attempt to restrict the use of blogs because they "COULD BE used" to subvert open meeting law and he does so by implying they "MAY HAVE BEEN used" to subvert the open meeting law without providing evidence they "HAVE BEEN USED" to violate the open meeting law. He implies Sanderson motives are subversive and asks for his ruling, a real slime job. It seems to me that Sanderson's motives are to provide information about the issues being confronted, how she thinks about them and the direction she like to go in. If communicating with one's constituency becomes illegal, surely we lost.

Recall that not one of the people who signed the letter approached Sanderson to voice their concern. That tells me the concern is disingenuous to the extent of the reason given for pursuing it.

If DeCharia would be honest with himself and the public, he'd admit his motive were politics and policy not ethics amd legality. That goes for Amherst's Irv Rhodes, Leverett's Kip Fonsh, Pelham's Tracy Farnham, Shutesbury's Michael DeCharia and region boss Farshid Hajir.

Nonethless, "the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts wrote in a letter to the Northwestern district attorney's office last week," "Public officials who maintain blogs are exercising free speech rights and should not be silenced because of concerns about Open Meeting Law violations"

What say you? Will DeCharia and his fellow speech quashers join the battle against the ACLU? (Bill O'Reilly hates the ACLU. Does DeCharia and comapny too?)

TomG said...

"This is bigger than one blogger, it is bigger than one committee and it is bigger than one town. This is a challenge for the commonwealth to get right," he said.

DeCharia would have a much stronger case if he could show harm, actual wrong-doing using a blog to subvert open meeting law instead of a potential or an imagined abuse.

That said, it sounds like DeCharia is not done tilting at this windmill.

TomG said...

"We believe that government should be conducted in the sunshine"

...which is why they signed the letter and sent it off to the DA without CCing Sanderson or better yet talking to her about their concerns before finishing the letter. Perhaps she to would want to sign it. Instead, they operated in the dark.