I catch up with stuff on weekends when I un-plug a clunky Saturday Night Live or after C-SPAN’s Sunday repeats of the consistently entertaining “Questions for the Prime Minister” from London.
Two weekends back, I discovered some very good reporting in the Eden Prairie Sun Current, the New Yorker Magazine and a hint of things to come on MPP.
If you are slow in the over-urgent blog world that swirls about, consider Raffi Khatchadourian’s New Yorker piece about Wikileaks and its founder Jullian Assange: http://www.newyorker.com/repor… and departed Eden Prairie Sun Currentcommunity editor Chris Olwell’s piece and side bar on the difficulty citizens and journalists have had retrieving public information and data from the Eden Prairie School District. ( http://www.mnsun.com/articles/… )
For me, the inside look at WikiLeaks was eye-opening. WikiLeaks, rather than the thousands of gotchya, tracker and stalker videos on YouTube, is the future of effective, keep ’em honest and muckracking journalism. This is how the most savvy and bold of us are going to keep Big Brother from lulling and bullying the world into a few fascist spheres. WikiLeaks, (sounds like a bladder control device) knows how to acquire and expose very important stuff that regular folks need to know about.
For Big Brother, taking out WikiLeaks seems like an un-winnable game of Wak-A-Mole; hammer one or two sites down and others have already popped up. Now we just need to keep the net neutral.
I followed the New Yorker piece to one of the WikiLeaks postings of the unedited, highly classified gun mount video of a 2007 U.S. chopper assault on armed, Baghdad insurgents. I re-learned (or inferred) from watching the unedited version of the video that such a war does not protect us, it does not build democracy, it undercuts the lives and integrity of our troops and their families and it bankrupts both the national ethos and treasury.
Back in Eden Prairie, America’s best small city to live in (according to CNNMoney.com – and I agree with the designation), departed EP Sun Current editor Chris Olwell wrote a great investigative story on the Eden Prairie School District’s paranoid management of public documents and the media and likely violations of Minnesota’s open meeting laws. Olwell needed to inoke the Minnesota Data Practices Act to force District Communications Director Cami Melton Hanily to gather the public emails that he needed to research his story. His lead:
“For a public institution, there are a lot off things about the Eden Prairie School District that seem distinctly private.
Superintendent Melissa Krull is something of a recluse. She rarely grants media interviews, and when she does she’s always flanked by her Communications Director Camie Melton Hanily. She never deviates from the script.
Reporters who want to interview any staff or faculty member must go through a single point of contact, again Melton Hanily. This is the Media Policy.
Members of the School Board, the governing body elected to represent the citizens of Eden Prairie, are reluctant to speak publicly. Instead, the board is represented by Chair Kim Ross, who alone has the authority to speak for the board.
Requests for public information are rarely fulfilled without a struggle.”
Mr.Olwell also referenced the frustrating misadventures of several parents who had sought public records from the School District.
Olwell’s previous important look at Eden Prairie Mayor Phil Young’s troubles with travel and meeting re-imbursement requests also depended on public documents and the Minnesota Public Data Request Act. Olwell was mining the same hidden ore that MPP’s Two Putt Tommy Johnson had already been mining, posting about and speaking on at Eden Prairie City Hall.
(“The Old Two Putter,” investigates, writes of, broadcasts on and shows up in person at public hearings and forums to hold tilted elected officials honest.)
Olwell benefited from Johnson’s reportage in crafting his own fine story. To note: Mr. Young, who I personally like, has decided not file for re-election.
Instead, the growly-voiced, sleepy, out-of-touch, Senate District 42 Republican endorsed Jon Duckstad is running for Mayor. But so too is still popular, former mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens. Tyra-Lukens, an independent, savvy and smart public servant, will garner support all over town, except perhaps from the rigid, doctrinaire party Republicans, the one’s who helped Duckstad get into office four years ago.
All by way of suggesting that, in their respective venues WikiLeaks, Olwell and Johnson are doing good work. Now, on to the future.