As a shining example of trashing openness and transparency in government, Bob “the Bully” Bass, County Corrections Partnership Coordinator and Detention Facilities Specialist with the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) told the press and citizens present at an open public meeting to turn their cameras off. His reason? The presentation contained law enforcement sensitive information.
That might have had some validity had Bob “the Bully” Bass not said later in the meeting that the video he showed was available on YouTube. Yeap, that’s right. You can watch the video online on YouTube.
Now back to that open meeting thing. It’s an OPEN MEETING BOB. You know, the kind where the public is invited to attend so that they can see what their government is up to. Oh that’s right, you and the machine don’t want the people watching you.
Even the press didn’t show up to the last Blount County Corrections Partnership (BCCP) meeting. The paper watched the recording available online and reported on it two days after the meeting. What’s the press going to do when they don’t show up and the meetings haven’t been recorded?
The investigative journalist providing the video told me that the meetings of the County Corrections Partnership, in the county where this video was recorded, are held in a restricted area. Yeah, that’s right. The meetings open to the public are held in a restricted area. Just exactly how many people are going to make an effort to get through security and into a restricted area to attend an “open” public meeting?
That reminds me of the meeting here in Blount County last June when Bob “the Bully” Bass gave the same presentation to the Blount County Corrections Partnership. That meeting was held at the Justice Center not the courthouse. The IT Director had made arrangements to record that meeting but Bob “the Bully” Bass stopped that recording as well.
The rule makers want it this way. The meetings are “open” to the public but they don’t have to be convenient or recorded. Out of sight, out of mind.
Except that it is your wallets they are emptying. Remember the jail study which said that Blount County needed to totally rethink the use of its jail? Remember the $1 million plan with a plan for another million? Now Bob “the Bully” Bass is pushing to build after his off the video camera presentation. A member of the TCI Board of Control said that Blount County could use a nice 100,000 person jail.
Do you want Blount County to be the location of the next Brushy Mountain prison? If not, show up Thursday at 5:30 in room 315, where there isn’t a video camera rolling and the machine hopes you aren’t present and watching them.