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Google Alert - open government

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The news media plays "gotcha"

A very unfortunate thing is occurring in the reporting of news related to government and campaigns. The focus largely seems to be in delighting in when mistakes are made instead of reporting on the substance of issues.

For example, much ado was made locally and statewide about one of my opponents putting a photograph of San Diego on her brochure. It was funny but it certainly did not rate the coverage it received, especially when not one word has been said about the misleading brochures being sent out by other candidates -- claiming credit for things like the lowest crime rate in 40 years or the Clean Trucks program and on and on.

The next "gotcha" will come shortly when editorial endorsements and articles come out about how Gerrie Schipske has great ideas but she just can't seem to get a consensus on the current Council to get them passed.

Yep. You got me. Yes it is true that on some occasions I have not been able to get a majority vote to support my agenda item . And the press and my detractors are ever vigilant to gleefully report that. But what is never reported is what they used to call in journalism as "the why of the story."

For instance, when I brought an item to the City Council that asked for the following two matters to be sent to a Council committee for review and recommendation I didn't even get a second on the motion for discussion, nor were any of the council members willing even to debate the issues. And what were those issues? Require City Council members and the Mayor to disclose emails and texts made during council concerning city business before a vote is a take and to ban the acceptance of campaign contributions from contractors and developers doing business or bidding on business with the City.

Not one word was written about why no one but me on the Council even wanted to talk about open and transparent government. Not one. Instead the lack of vote became fodder for "look, Schipske couldn't even get a second." 

I know, I know. Maybe my colleagues were reacting to the fact that I had been honored at The White House as one of seven national Champions of Change for Open Government  and that California Forward had written about my efforts to launch "Open Up Long Beach" in the 2013 State of Transparency report and they were tired of being left out.

But for the media not to even ask any of them why they didn't even want the issues discussed -- when those items by the way are already the law in the several other cities in California -- wow.

I was asked  during an editorial meeting about this and I will share what I told the editor emeritus -- "I am proud of what I did bringing this needed government reform forward for discussion. It is the Mayor and the other Council members who need to explain to the public why killed it." 

I also added, that if the newspaper wants a "lap dog" or a "rubber stamp" for elected officials -- then of course, I am not their candidate.

Ironically, this week is national  "Sunshine Week" which celebrates James Madison's birthday. James Madison, the father of our federal Constitution, wrote that "consent of the governed" requires that the people be able to "arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." 
  
"Sunshine Week" reminds us that every citizen in our participatory democracy has an inherent right to access to government meetings and public records and that an open and accessible government is vital to establishing and maintaining the people's trust and confidence in their government and in the government's ability to effectively serve its citizens.
  
The week was begun by journalists in Florida who were tired of not getting the information they asked for from government in order to report what government was doing or not doing. 
  
While many news outlets nationally feature articles on the importance of open government this week and call upon local government to hold forums and pass resolutions to open up information, we will be treated in Long Beach by our news media with political endorsements of those who have done little, in fact nothing, to make local, state, and community college government more open and transparent.

As Mayor, the first action I will take is to begin implementing a series of open government reforms. You can see them on my website:www.schipskeformayor.com. 

Please help me do it by voting for me for Mayor on April 8th.


With regards,


Gerrie
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