Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sky High Price of Transparency

Besides outright refusal to provide requested documents and then running the risk of losing an appeal to the state Public Records Division  (although they have no enforcement powers), another way of keeping things buried is to charge a high price for fulfilling the request.

State law allows "reasonable fees" to be charged by a public institution to fulfill a request, and it really doesn't matter if you are an average citizen or legacy news organization.

Of course these days newspapers can barely afford to pay for employees coffee so an unexpected $11,000 for public documents is a little hard to swallow.

Which of course only makes you wonder, what is UMass trying to hide?

Our flagship of higher education seemed to be pretty transparent last month when they fairly quickly released total costs ($305,000) associated with the Mullins Center Concert designed to distract students from participating in the Blarney Blowout.

So what's the big deal about giving out the cost breakdown?  Will Ludacris and Juicy J be upset that Kesha was paid more? 

Or are there extra costs we don't know about?

These days public relations personnel outnumber journalists by five to one.  With UMass it's far worse since there really are no professional reporters exclusively assigned to cover UMass/Amherst, while their  "Office of News & Media Relations" has a full-time staff (many of them former reporters) of eleven.

But when you mess with one reporter, you mess with them all.  As well as intelligent readers who take transparency seriously. 


Anonymous said...

The unintended consequence of your linking to a post of yours from April 2013 is that we are reminded that Ed has been crapping up this blog for at least two years.

Anonymous said...

There are other ways to find out what you want about something or someone. A buddy is a professional skip tracer. She told me the best way to get information is to show up, hat in hand, and beg.

Anonymous said...

Since this came from the student activities fee the students paid, why do you care?

Larry Kelley said...

That's kind of my whole point.

I didn't care ... until they starting messing with my friends at The Republican.

Anonymous said...

That means you've been doing it yhat long too! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

I don't see anywhere in your article where you say they messed with the Republican. I don't even see the Republican's name anywhere in your post. Perhaps if you wrote more clearly.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea the Dalai Lama spoke at UMass. It was 1 year before I moved here.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you buy lunch for the SGA president and ask him? Lot's cheaper and faster.

Of course the DL may just get paid in karma :-)

Anonymous said...

Helluva nice guy. I served him tea when he was at Smith College. He asked for Lipton. Unassuming gentleman.