Monday, March 15, 2010

Editorial: Congress lawsuit matter of sense

The editorial follows up on Friday's story by Paula about a dust devil in Congress between the school district and four people who've demanded to see lots of documents and speak at board meetings, two of whom are mother and daughter.

Clearly there are two sides to this story. What concerns me about the news story and the editorial is that they seem to be based entirely on a press release from the Goldwater Institute, which is not only an extreme partisan organization, but is legally representing the people who've been bugging the district.

I'm not saying it's impossible for GI to be giving out the straight dope, but since there are no other news sources (including the Republic, which parrots the same release), we can't know any more about it than what GI wants us to know.

There's an important clue in Paula's story: The GI lawyer says, "If the lawsuit goes forward and the district gets an injunction, it could completely negate the public records law, negate the First Amendment right to free speech and eliminate public participation for fear of being sued." This is legal poppycock -- the injunction would be sharply limited, against specific people in response to specific behavior. By framing it this way, GI is setting up the idea that there can be no limits to citizen demands on government entities, including harassment. GI's kill-government history shows that it loves to see bureaucratic wheels grinding to a halt (outside the military and police apparatus, of course).

It could also be that the district board is being run by a few hotheads who can't stand people calling them to account. A lot of details in the story don't add up. But without a clear account from the other side, we're left to guess.

Given that the unnamed Courier editor saw fit to run with Goldwater and no new information, I'd probably bet that the story is largely BS and the school board has a reasonable complaint. Watch for a followup story on how the judge rules.

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