Tennessee Coalition for Open Government Executive Director Frank Gibson is among those who have spoken out against the heavy censorship by the state of a report on last year’s fire at the Kilgore Flares plant in West Tennessee. The fire injured six people, some of them severely.
About half of the 19-page report on the fire was blacked out by the state before it was released, the Jackson Sun reported. The state said it was censored due to national security concerns. The plant makes decoy flares intended to be fired by U.S. Air Force and Navy combat aircraft to deflect incoming missiles from enemy attackers.
From the Sun story:
But Frank Gibson, of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, said he thinks the report should be released in its entirety.
“Richard Nixon thought the (secrecy of the) Pentagon papers were of national importance also,” he said, “But they ended up being printed.
“Since this is a major incident,” he said, “and they have been found guilty and been fined, what would be the legal basis for withholding that information?”
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Tennessee Coalition for Open Government Executive Director Frank Gibson was quoted in a Sunshine Week column by Ken Paulson, editor of USA Today:
“It’s part human nature and part power” when officials fail to disclose information to the public, says Frank Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. “Public officials are fearful that if they’ve made a mistake, they’ll get into trouble if it gets exposed, so they try to hang onto everything.”
From the Knoxville News Sentinel‘s Tom Humphrey:
NASHVILLE – More than 1,200 people contacted the Office of Open Records Counsel during the past year, and most of them were government officials, according to a recent report.
The annual report shows 1,213 inquiries, all but about 100 dealing with access to public records and the remainder with interpretation of the state’s open meetings law. A majority of the inquiries, 628, came from government officials, while average citizens contacted the office 492 times.
Frank Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government and a member of an advisory council that works with the office, said the figures are significant because they show the office is working as envisioned when created in 2008.
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From the AP:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee appeals court is increasing efforts to shield the identities of adult victims of sex crimes.
The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has had a policy in place for years to use initials in place of names in opinions published online. These opinions can go into graphic detail about the sexual abuse of women and children.
Posted in News, Open records
Tagged court records, courts, crime, crime victims, criminal justice, Frank Gibson, Open records, Sex crimes, shield law, TCOG
Tennessee Coalition for Open Government Executive Director Frank Gibson was quoted in a story by the Commercial Appeal (later picked up by the AP) on the issue:
But Frank Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition For Open Government, warned that changes to the Public Records Act open up a can of worms. Exemptions that are intended to be specific are often interpreted quite broadly by the officials in charge of those records. That means the officials won’t release information that is supposed to be public.
“It gets abused by people who don’t understand what the exemption was designed to protect in the first place,” Gibson said.
Records pertaining to 911 calls and personal e-mails sent by public employees on government accounts may be among those legislators attempt to close off next year, Tennessee Coalition for Open Government Executive Director Frank Gibson says in a column published in newspapers statewide today:
The 2011 legislative session is stacking up to be a very bad year for open government in Tennessee, with threats coming from several fronts.
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The state’s highest court has been asked to force the release of records pertaining to the $200 million in tax credits for the TNInvestco program, The Tennessean says.
Tennessee Coalition for Open Government Executive Director Frank Gibson was quoted in the story:
Frank Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, said the case does raise important questions about access to public records.
“The information that they have collected would be considered, under any other scenario, public bidding information,” he said. “The public has a right to know what went into the decision of who $200 million in state money would go to.”