|Sen. Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof|
By Brandon Hall
(Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)
Arlan Meekhof has reached a new low, playing a twisted game of "hide and seek" with Michiganders seeking basic information about their government.
In a voice vote unaccountable to Constituents and pushed for by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, the public and media no longer have access to vital records of the Senators they elect after Senate rules were changed.
Local governments are subject to FOIA, as are most areas of federal government. Years ago though, the Michigan Legislature exempted themselves from FOIA requirements. The Senate rules allowed a similar process to FOIA, but Meekhof has JUST purged those rules, like Cindy Gamrat at a GOP Caucus meeting: they're GONE.
What did Meekhof remove from Senate rules??? Accountability from our elected officials to "we the people," and to the media. It's not like we pay for their salaries and everything that they do, including the buildings in which they do it.
The following is no longer true:
"The Secretary of the Senate shall serve as the Senate Information Officer to respond to requests for Senate financial records from the public and the media on behalf of a Senator or the Senate. All requests must include the first and last name, mailing address, and phone number of the requester.
When the Secretary of the Senate receives a written request for a public record, the Secretary shall immediately, but not more than five (5) business days after the day the request is received unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the person making the request, respond to the request by one (1) of the following:
A) Grant the request.
B) Issue a written notice to the requesting person denying the request.
C) Grant the request in part and issue a written notice to the requesting person denying the request in part.
D) Under unusual circumstances, issue a notice extending for not more than ten (10) business days the period during which the Senate shall respond to the request.
The Senate shall not issue more than one (1) notice of extension for a particular request.If the Senate fails to respond to the written request within these guidelines, there will be a fine of $250 and all Senate copying and inspection fees shall be waived."
Brian Dickerson of the Detroit Free Press wrote:
" Michigan's state senators hardly helped their cause last week when they voted to make it more difficult for the public to obtain information about its own financial operations.
Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, and adopted by a voice vote April 28, Senate Resolution 43 deleted a provision in the Senate's internal rules that had required it to respond to public requests for information within 15 days and substantially reduced the scope of documents the Senate is required to make public.
Under the revised disclosure rules, state senators may refuse to provide records of their official Internet use or "any other document or record protected from public disclosure by agreement, contract, Senate rule or law," which would seem to exempt just about anything a senator doesn't want voters to see."
Now if you want something, Arlan tells you to go to hell. Don't listen? He'll call the cops on you like he frequently does to reporters who come to his office and ask simple questions.
Welcome to the circus-Meekhof is the ringmaster, you're just a spectator.
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
>>>Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com
|Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson|