Opinion: The lousy excuses for the Georgia Senate’s lack of openness

This article by my AJC colleagues does a good job of explaining the Georgia Senate’s anti-public attitude toward the broadcasting or live-streaming of its committee hearings. I wanted to add my own two cents about the pitiful arguments offered within it by senators in defense of this indefensible stance.

“Capitol leaders say they are trying to balance being accessible to the public while honoring the idea of decorum and tradition.”

This is simply silly. The only reason this “tradition” exists is because the technology was not available, or at least not cost-effective, in decades past. As for decorum, allowing people to watch hearings from other locations, rather than trying to cram themselves into committee rooms — which, let’s be honest, are sometimes chosen precisely because they are small and won’t allow for many people to attend the hearing — would enhance decorum. To the extent officials think it is somehow against their fragile sensibilities to have citizens recording or live-streaming hearings with their own phones, think how much better it would be to have a single person doing the job on behalf of the chamber, from a pre-arranged spot in the room chosen to maximize the camera’s perspective while minimizing any distraction it might cause.

And I’ll let you be the judge of whether the scene in the photo below — which I took just before the beginning of the first committee hearing on the casino bill, held in one of the medium-size committee rooms despite what everyone knew would be enormous interest in the matter — looks like “decorum” to you:

casinos-hearing

Note that, other than a few of the people (not all of them by a long shot) sitting down when the hearing began, this is what it looked like for the entirety of the hearing as a group of mostly lobbyists, journalists and Baptists tried to watch the proceedings.

“In the past, Senate leaders have cited the cost of wiring nearly a dozen committee meeting rooms both in the state Capitol and across the street in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, where many members have offices.”

As the story goes on to note, many of the committee rooms in question have already been wired for video because the House broadcasts its meetings from them. But the faux controversies that have arisen this year as citizens and some senators have tried to live-stream hearings have also undermined this argument. A relatively late-model smartphone and decent WiFi render an expensive solution to this problem unnecessary.

“In response to questions last week, the Senate leadership team, including President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, and (Rules Committee Chairman Jeff) Mullis, issued a joint statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“‘All Senate meetings are open to the public,’ it said. ‘Any citizen is welcome to attend and be part of the process.'”

If you live in Duluth, and don’t have a job or family obligations that tie you down to a certain location during working hours, then maybe, just maybe, you will find this answer acceptable. (Maybe.) But if you live in, say, Chickamauga, as Mullis does, then you might find it a bit insulting to be told you need to spend almost four hours driving round-trip (per Google Maps) in order to watch debate on a particular bill that might last no more than five or 10 minutes. Not to mention more far-flung locales such as Savannah or Valdosta or any number of others.

“‘If we don’t have rules, if we don’t have laws, if we don’t have order, we have chaos,’ said state Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus. ‘The General Assembly is not the place for that kind of chaos. There are rules. We all have to follow the rules. They are laid out perfectly in front of you, and you need to be able to follow them.'”

We also have laws, laid out perfectly in front of us, which we all have to follow. And yet, Kirk and his colleagues spend three months out of the year crafting and passing new statutes or revisions to old ones to change the laws we must know and follow. Is it really so outrageous to think this rule needs to be changed as well?

Reader Comments 0

155 comments
AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

The fascists can't even figure out that the Berlin wall was designed to keep people in, not keep them out.


We have a serious education problem in our country.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@breckenridge @AndyManUSA#45 Look, crackpot, that "Philosopher" you dissed a couple of comments below this one, didn't just Live in the 1st Century, He brought about the 1st Century. 


You might want to educate yourself.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@AndyManUSA#45 

Serious education problem? Oh no doubt, we absolutely do.

Now what was the name of that awful school you attended?

breckenridge
breckenridge

@AndyManUSA#45 @breckenridge 

I did not "dis"Jesus in the least.  What I did was attack the disgusting filth that compromise the social conservative movement, the very same human garbage that destroyed the republican party.  If you were more intelligent you would have been able to figure that out.

Fact: Jesus would never embrace a law designed to discriminate against a minority (gays).  And if you think he would then you don't have a goddam clue as to what the man was all about.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@AndyManUSA#45 Berlin was designed to keep people in, not keep them out? Really? I bet only few people know that. It was probably kept secret. You are such a well of knowledge, you should publish all of  it for the benefit of the masses. They will just genuflect and Mr. Trump will call you amazing and your work incredible.  

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

When you hear an elected official so ignorant and uneducated like Maxine Waters, using profanity to describe Trump's cabinet picks you must ask yourself how far has this once respected American political party fallen into disgust among true patriotic citizens of this great Republic.

breckenridge
breckenridge

The drooling at the mouth stupid loser hick social conservatives are back with another bogus religious freedom bill.  And Nate Deal is out ahead of things, telling them to cram it.


Nice job Nate.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit @breckenridge 

Well I don't what religion they're promoting, but the legislation certainly isn't based on the teachings and examples set by the 1st Century Jewish philosopher Jesus of Nazareth. In fact it's completely contrary to what Jesus taught and how he lived his life.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge @SGTGrit  I've said it before what you know about Jesus Christ, Christianity and the Holy Bible could fit into a peanut shell with plenty of space left over.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit @breckenridge 

And as I've said before, the idea that getting dunked in the river and claiming to have a personal savior is a guarantee of salvation is purely childish, as well as the domain of inferior minds.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge @SGTGrit  Well only you say as an atheist. We don't accept your inferior mind on the subject of Christianity.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

It's also well-known that our popularity has plummeted. The latest Gallup poll finds that only 32 percent of adults "trust the mass media," down from 55 percent in 1999. In another Gallup poll, which asks slightly different questions, the media's standing seems even lower. Only 20 percent expressed strong confidence in newspapers, 21 percent in TV news and 19 percent in internet news.


Don't change a thing. Keep up the good work.


http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/02/22/why_trump_loves_to_hate_the_media_133153.html

Caius
Caius

The Trump / Russia matter is not being introduced by the             Democrats  It has it origins in Russian leaks/plants to the European press.

But it is a Russian thing not a US thing. Democrats tend to buy into it and Republicans not so much, except for Republicans in congress. Watch the Senate Intelligence committee.

The appointments of Mattis, Kelly and McMaster, who are fiercely anti Russian, do clash with Trump's actual words.  Which raises the question do Trump's words really matter?  



breckenridge
breckenridge

In new Gallup polling, more than 3 in 10 Republicans have a favorable view of Putin — almost three times the percentage who said the same in 2015. Twice as many independents have a favorable opinion of Putin as did two years ago. Those numbers have helped bump Putin's overall approval numbers to their highest mark in five years.

A pathetic bunch of punks that put politics above country. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

 Widely thought to be one of the Army’s premier thinkers — he’s been called a “warrior scholar” — McMaster made the threat posed by Russia a central focus in his most recent role as the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center. He has publicly warned lawmakers about the threat posed by Moscow.

Oh. So he's not going to be sucking from the infected straw that Trump, Flynn and the other pro-Russia losers have been.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@breckenridge You are capable of understanding that Trump picked him, aren't you, crackpot?


What a whackjob you are.

Starik
Starik

@AndyManUSA#45 @breckenridge Picked Flynn first... maybe Trump made a good pick this time. Bannon and Miller must have been somewhere else when the decision was made.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @AndyManUSA#45 @breckenridge  Yet he also picked Nikki Haley for the U.N., General Mattis for defense secretary and had Bolten in his top four for NSA. I think the Democrats have used up their Russian connection fairy tale.

breckenridge
breckenridge

"Islamic State in Iraq and Syria  has been using a perverted interpretation of religion.”  H.R. McMaster, 2016

He gets it.  Islam is not the problem, but rather the perverse interpretation thereof.

Finally, a Trump pick that is not a whacko dipchit.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Well we certainly do have the hard-left pukes on the AJC blogs that have oozed over like red slime from Kookman's or Bookman's anti-American blog. It is what it is but they are on the losing side of American values. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @SGTGrit  You mean the old dinosaur hippies from the 60's over on Bookies blog? You can include most of them.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Does Andy think this is his column and he lets Kyle introduce him? Also, why does he post in pulpit font?

MarkVV
MarkVV

@AvgGeorgian You are making an unwarranted assumption that Andy is capable of thinking.

bu22
bu22

@MarkVV @AvgGeorgian " Once asked by an aide to respond to a letter to the editor from one of his critics, Vladimir Lenin refused, saying: “Why should we bother to reply to Kautsky? He would reply to us, and we would have to reply to his reply. There’s no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Kautsky is a traitor to the working class, and everyone will understand everything.”

That has been the modus operandi of the left for decades. It doesn’t respond to arguments with arguments but with stigmatizing names designed to end debate. As the communications arm of the left, the media conforms perfectly to Lenin’s method. Instead of rebutting the arguments of conservatives, it has found it easier to brand them as “enemies” of science, women, minorities, the poor, and so on."  https://spectator.org/trump-is-beating-the-media-at-its-own-game/

ESalden
ESalden

@bu22 @MarkVV @AvgGeorgian Where have you been? What you have written applies precisely to Trump's supporters and apologists. All you need to do is to read the posts by AndyMan and Lil' Barry, 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

 “Trump is doomed.” That’s the thinking in the deep state. That’s how they’re looking at this, and all of this is upsetting their applecart. “Enter now the usual sycophants [men such as] John McCain, his lovely sidekick Lindsey Graham and various other useful idiots, adding their capon voices to the leftist choir: let freedom ring! “So what must Trump do now” in response to this rolling coup? “First, complete his cabinet. Second, fire every fireable federal employee in the leak-prone agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency. Third, start taking operational security seriously.

“Fourth, assume everything you say will leak to the media and be spun as malevolently as possible. Fifth, trust nobody. Finally, fight back, with all the powers of the presidency. And take every friend you can get … Because, if you don’t, you’re going to get a lot more of this,” and there’s a picture of rioters and protests and so forth.- Limbaugh


I like #4, sucker them, big time.


MAGA

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

 However, some of America’s spies are deciding that that’s not enough. For reasons of misguided righteousness or partisan hatred, they’ve taken it upon themselves to be judge, jury, and executioner. They have prosecuted their case in the court of public opinion, with likeminded media outlets such as CNN, The New York Times, and the Washington Post serving as court stenographers.


Elected by no one, responsible only to each other, these spies have determined that Trump is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. Days ago, they delivered their verdict. According to one intelligence official, the president “will die in jail.”


 John Schindler @20committee

Now we go nuclear. IC war going to new levels. Just got an EM fm senior IC friend, it began: "He will die in jail."https://twitter.com/JWal077/status/831871381570781184

9:27 AM - 15 Feb 2017

  6,297 6,297 Retweets   8,136 8,136 likes


As I wrote the other day, the Deep State empire of former Obama administration officials, former members of the intelligence community, and gullible reporters is trying to overturn the election and overthrow the government by peaceful means, via a whispering campaign, with sinister mutterings about "rumored Kremlin ties." That there's so far absolutely nothing to back it up hasn't seemed to dissuade them.


It's a crazed Deep State.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@AndyManUSA#45

Heya, IReport. You been kinda quiet on the whinin' and reportin' front today. Your time been spent helping to overthrow the shadow government that Obama is leading from 'exile'?

Caius
Caius

Deep state. Concept been around since early in 20th century if not prior.  (Some trace it to the Ottoman Empire) Every generation or so someone baits a hook with it and gets bites.


breckenridge
breckenridge

H.R. McMaster......yes, I knew that name rang a bell, although I couldn't place it.  I read his book on the Vietnam War a while back.  Very good book, extremely well researched, factually based through and through.  But now he's entering the world of alternative facts.


Hmm.

Caius
Caius

@breckenridge The book came out of his PhD dissertation at UNC. It is Dr,McMaster as well as Lt. Gen. McMaster. 

Agree that one of best books in its genre.

Great selection by Trump if he will order his political people to keep the heck out of the way.


Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@AvgGeorgian

Remember, Andy thinks that Obama is still in control and is running a shadow government from 'exile.' Per Andy, Obama's shadow government is going down this week. But maybe he meant "this week" in the Trumpian sense, which means it could also be next week, next month, next year, or maybe even never.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@AvgGeorgian @Eye wonder 

Oh you mean the Deep State thing?

That's the most exciting thing to come along since the Home Guard made its debut on the other side.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

And on the 7th day, he didn't rest -


On Sunday, White House advisers held a three-hour meeting on health care at Trump's South Florida club, their third lengthy discussion on the topic in four days. Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs banker now serving as Trump's top economic adviser, and newly sworn in Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have been leading talks with Republican lawmakers and business leaders on taxes.


Between rounds of golf, of course.


Neither man has prior government experience.


And that^^ is as far as I got with that article. I know exactly why the little mealy mouthed phrase "no prior government experience" was interjected.


Let's review. The previous administration used to like to say that the Republicans were the ones who drove the car into the ditch, and I agree, the Republicans had pretty much ditched their own country at that point in time. Now, how do we go about describing what President Trump has to deal with, while those with prior government experience sit around slurping each other?


Nuclear winter? 


Yeah, I'm good with that.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@AndyManUSA#45

Has your boy managed to overthrow the shadow government that Obama is leading from 'exile'?  

It's now Tuesday.  You said it would happen this week. What's up?

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45


"Here we go; this is what I’ve handled from Monday-Friday this week: rape, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, rape-assault and rape, extortion, blackmail, assault, violence against police, threats to police, drug crime, drugs, crime, felony, attempted murder, rape again, extortion again and ill-treatment."

Suspected perpetrators; Ali Mohammed, Mahmod, Mohammed, Mohammed Ali, again, again, again. Christopher… what, is it true? Yes, a Swedish name snuck in on the edges of a drug crime. Mohammed, Mahmod Ali, again and again."

“Countries representing all the crimes this week: Iraq, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Somalia, Syria again, Somalia, unknown, unknown country, Sweden. Half of the suspects, we can’t be sure because they don’t have any valid papers. Which in itself usually means that they’re lying about their nationality and identity.”


Swedish cop^^.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

By the way, he got investigated for that, so there's no cover up, uh huh.

breckenridge
breckenridge

This Yano guy.........he's in charge at Breitbart?  Yeah, they've never met a conspiracy theory they didn't like.  Not to be confused with a legitimate news source.

breckenridge
breckenridge

An an excellent example of distortion was served up today.  It started with Trump making some nonsensical comment about a terror attack in Sweden last Friday.  And it turned into an episode of punky little girlie-men running around screaming  they want to come here and rape our women!


What a bunch of sissies. What a bunch of cowards.