Better UTAH Draws Attention to Transparency Problems

Even though the Senate chose to forgo a public hearing on former-state representative Holly Richardson’s appointment to the State Records Committee, Better UTAH was able to draw significant attention to the process. See below for a list of media appearances, with brief descriptions and links.

Daily Herald, October 16, 2012
Group wants Senate to wait on records committee appointment 

 “We are not saying Holly isn’t an appropriate choice,” said Maryann Martindale, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah. “We feel it is crucial to make sure the public is a part of the process.”

Martindale also admitted she is concerned about Richardson’s ability to be unbiased in her decisions, since she initially voted for a bill that was passed in the 2011 legislative session that aimed to restrict the public’s access to certain government documents such as lawmakers’ text messages and emails — House Bill 477 — then later voted to repeal it. She also is concerned about Richardson’s strong support for conservative issues through her political blog. Martindale said those concerns could be cleared up if Richardson could speak to those issues in a public hearing.

Salt Lake Tribune, October 17, 2012
Group protests lack of public hearing for Utah records nominee

The Alliance for a Better UTAH, a nonprofit progressive organization that unsuccessfully requested a public hearing, scolded the Government Operations Confirmation Committee in a statement Tuesday.

“Legislators have decided to ignore the public’s right to participate in the democratic process by summarily confirming Governor Herbert’s nomination of Holly Richardson to the State Records Committee,” said Maryann Martindale, the nonprofit’s executive director.

Salt Lake Tribune, October 17, 2012
Holly in a hurry: Nominee should face a hearing

The Utah Senate reportedly is poised to confirm a controversial nominee to the state committee in charge of enforcing its open-records law. Without the benefit of an open public hearing.

Somehow, the whole concept of open government seems beyond the grasp of many of our elected leaders.

Salt Lake Tribune, October 18, 2012
Richardson confirmed to state records committee 

Richardson’s nomination drew some opposition from the Alliance for a Better Utah, a liberal-leaning group that called for a public hearing on Richardson’s selection.

The Alliance issued a statement expressing disappointment in the Senate’s decision to confirm the appointment without a hearing but expressing hope that Richardson ” will be a faithful defender of the public’s right to information.”

Daily Herald, October 17, 2012
Don’t slam GRAMA panel

Open government records are important to the people of Utah. It is therefore important to populate the panel that decides open records disputes with a representative sample of individuals that will provide the best balance of opinion.

The Legislature saw that need when it established the State Records Committee.

But when Gov. Gary Herbert appointed former state legislator Holly Richardson to the committee as a “citizen” member, he tilted the balance. As a political insider and former supporter of H.B. 477 — the infamous government secrecy bill from last year — Richardson doesn’t fit the profile. If confirmed by the Senate today, as expected, she will be seen by some as stacking the deck in favor of lawmakers (read secrecy).

Fox13, October 17 & 18, 2012
Richardson joins state records committee

The committee that settles disputes over public document requests has a new member. Former-state representative and political blogger Holly Richardson of Pleasant Grove has been confirmed to the state records committee. But there was some resistance, the Alliance for a Better UTAH says it wanted to have a public hearing on Richardson’s appointment.

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