November 13, 2012

Transparent? Or Transluscent? Or Opaque?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:09 am

During the past decade there was probably not a wannabe candidate or incumbent for any public office who hasn’t promised to improve government transparency.  “Transparency” has become the  cliché word of choice among those who want it and those who eagerly promise to deliver it.

What is “government transparency?”  It turns out that there is no universally accepted definition (Surprise!  Surprise!).

Still, the Congressional Research Service has decided to produce a report titled Government Transparency and Secrecy:  An Examination of Meaning and Its Use in the Executive Branch.  The highly unclassified 39-page report was dated November 8, 2012.



  1. I’ve always been curious about the term “transparency” and when it became part of the government lexicon. When I was putting together the Idaho Open Meeting Law back in 1973 and 1974 the word was never used as an expression of open government.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — November 13, 2012 @ 11:02 am

  2. And I might add that it’s use has become too commonplace to have any meaning of importance. An example would be a public official stating that they employ the highest standard of transparency in their activities, which should sound an alarm that they probably are not that open about what they are doing.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — November 13, 2012 @ 11:11 am

  3. Whether it’s called open government or transparent government, it becomes a relatively meaningless concept if those entrusted with the responsibility of governing are intent on conducting it out of the public’s view or even openly violating policies and laws. When lawmakers pass laws that put the the burden of enforcement on those who seek openness and require them to undertake costly legal measures to get compliance, then the lawmakers mock the concept of open government.

    Comment by Bill — November 13, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

  4. Bill, the Open Meeting Law provides a simple approach for any citizen who feels enforcement is needed; it does not put much of a burden on anyone seeking openness and certainly is not costly, and its creation certainly does not mock the concept of open government. If any mockery occurs it is when those charged with enforcement fail to act when provided a valid complaint.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — November 13, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

  5. Gary,

    When the public officials are intent on violating the law, then the burden to prosecute the law falls on the individual citizen, not the state. The problem with the law is that we, the people, are charged with enforcing a law of the state of Idaho by civil process in the courts.

    Comment by Bill — November 13, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

  6. Bill, you fail to acknowledge that the law provides that the county prosecutor”…”shall have the duty to enforce…” (67-2347(5) Idaho Code)for local government. The state attorney general has the same duty for violations by state agencies. So a citizen only needs to file a complaint and the prosecutor or attorney general is duty bound to act.

    In addition, the affected person may commence a civil action (67-2347(6)Idaho Code)which apparently you don’t like.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — November 13, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

  7. Then the powers that be file a tort claim against those questioning government actions and make it to costly to pursue. Just look at what the FAB4 have done with kennedy and the whole election challenge. They will slap your hand one way or another.

    Comment by concerned citizen — November 14, 2012 @ 6:16 am

  8. Gary,

    That is correct, but “…duty to enforce this act …” does not and will not automatically lead to prosecution. First, the offending body must be given an opportunity to acknowledge or deny the act. If the act is acknowledged, the offending body must be given an opportunity to “cure” the act. If the offending body either denies the act or fails to “cure” it, then the prosecutor may proceed with prosecution if he chooses. The law does not take prosecutorial discretion away from the prosecutor. He can still choose to not prosecute “in the interest of justice”, and his declination to prosecute will be upheld.

    The complaining person can pursue a civil action. All it takes is his own time and his own money to civilly enforce the laws which are supposed to be enforced by the state using our tax money.

    Comment by Bill — November 14, 2012 @ 6:55 am

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