Rosenberg, Reznik believe in state control of information?
One of the key tools that we have in Maryland to keep our legislators accountable are public information requests. This blog has a long history of sunshine in government, and Delegate Sandy Rosenberg seems to think that the public knows too much:
In Virginia, the attorney general, skeptical of global warming, tried to use his subpoena powers to build a fraud case against a climatology professor.
In Wisconsin, Republican Party officials sought the emails of a history professor, trying to demonstrate that he had misused his public account to stir political unrest during the state’s highly publicized battles over organized labor.
Maryland Del. Sandy Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat, has cited these controversies, which garnered national attention, as he vows to prevent a similar situation from arising here. Rosenberg introduced a bill being considered in the General Assembly that would extend broader protection from public information requests to professors at the state’s public universities.
But as it has elsewhere, the issue has sparked a debate pitting academic freedom against freedom of information. Rosenberg’s efforts have drawn praise from academics and raised concerns among open-government advocates.
Nse Ufot, government relations officer for the American Association of University Professors, said some of the great discoveries in history were deeply unpopular with contemporary political and social leaders, but scientists were free to make them without scrutiny at every step.
“We fear losing the culture of deep knowledge if every email that’s written is risking public ridicule,” she said. “If we lose that, it doesn’t bode well for us as a nation.”
You know, it’s kind of funny that we’re seeing this bill from Rosenberg (which is curiously sponsored by Kirill Reznik, who was born in Soviet Ukraine). Liberals like to run around saying that Republicans are anti-science, pro-secrecy, and pretty much want to keep the general public shielded from facts and information. Except in this case we have a Democrat that is trying to use the power of government to restrict the flow of public information, particularly to academics.
What does Rosenberg think that the state government has to hide from scientific scrutiny? His reasoning for this legislation is mind-boggling:
Rosenberg agreed: “There is a pattern of requests that appear very political in nature, and I want to make sure that similar harassment inquiries cannot be made in Maryland.” He added that public information requests made for political reasons or to quash research “could have a chilling effect on academic freedom.”
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Requests for “political reasons…”could have a chilling effect on academic freedom?” How is restricting the flow of information to any academics anything BUT a chilling effect on academic freedom. In fact, restricting the flow of information to any citizen is certainly a chilling effect on the freedom of any state citizen.
When it comes to information in Maryland, the Democrats probably do have a lot of things that they would prefer to keep out of the hands of academics. I’m sure there is plenty of fodder there for folks doing research on global warming, fracking, wind farms, bay pollution, and a host of other things. We should be encouraging research into this issues and scientific study of data gathered by the state.
Why do Rosenberg and Reznik want this?