Rick Snyder’s “Transparency” Includes Ban on Free Speech

Rick Snyder - Caricature

Image credit: DonkeyHotey

Gov. Rick Snyder frequently claims how his administration is “transparent”, “open” and “honest”. But every time he does, I’m reminded of that wonderful quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.

Just yesterday, I blogged about Snyder’s manipulation of the Michigan straight-ticket voting laws in a very transparent move to rig the game in favor of Republican candidates. And now, just 24-hours later, Gov. Snyder provides us with another example of his transparency. This time, banning the speech of public bodies.

On Wednesday, Snyder signed into law a bill that prohibits public bodies from distributing information on ballot proposals 60 days before an election. This is essentially a free speech gag order.

In this case, Snyder’s motivation is transparently ideological. Specifically, this move makes it much more difficult to garner votes for new (or renewed) millages. Suppose, for example, a city wishes to raise (or renew) a millage to raise money to make improvements to its public libraries. Perhaps they wish to install public access wi-fi, make various musical instruments available, or build out a children’s resource and activity area. But under Snyder’s new gag order, the library is forbidden from communicating these plans–and the anticipated long-term benefits–to the public during the 60-day period leading up to the vote.

Thus, twice in as many days, Gov. Rick Snyder has created new laws that manipulate the democratic process. In both cases, for transparently partisan or ideological advantage.

Snyder has cultivated the image of a “nerd” governor that diligently analyzes each decision, as a computer engineer would analyze a problem, and then make a logically sound choice. But this is just an image used to deflect attention from his true, partisan, ideological nature.

Even as they were passing it, members of the governor’s own party recognized this latest free speech ban was flawed. As reported by MLive:

Rep. Dave Pagel, R-Berrien Springs, said the bill was rushed through and he didn’t know the details of what he was voting on. He’s since heard real concerns from local governments and other groups. He’s talked to several other reps who feel the same way.

“I think we kind of made a mistake. It’s something we can go back and fix and it sounds like there’s quite a few people who realize and think the same way,” Pagel said.

This sort of shenanigan is nothing new for the governor who has earned the nickname “King Rick” for his questionably legal “emergency manager” law that give Snyder the ability to take over any state or local government body, essentially, on his say-so. Even now, his administration is scurrying to cover is rear end against the backlash of the Flint water fiasco, which is now drawing a federal investigation and threatening to expose the administration’s complicity in the lead poisoning of Flint residents.

But, of course, the “open and transparent” Snyder administration is completely forthcoming with information to help understand and address the Flint water crisis, right? No. Not at all. In fact, exactly the opposite.

The Snyder administration is far from open; far from transparent. Although, it’s partisan and ideological motivations are transparently obvious.

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