Friday, August 22, 2014

A Small Victory for Transparency on a Record Day

Yesterday was a big day for aShortChronicle, and it was particularly satisfying that it happened around such an important issue as government transparency.  The site hit an all time record in daily page views, and the Mushroom Alert post on the "closed" HOT Lanes meetings with local officials became the fastest rising post in the site's history.  A good bit of that had to do with the post being linked at - the Drudge-Report-styled aggregation site focusing on the Carolinas.  However, we also received a big bump locally driven by Facebook.

A good bit of the regular readership of this site is made up of local activists, elected officials, and staff members.  There are also a few media types mixed in based on feedback we've received.  For many of the elected officials and the more mainstream media, it's probably like witnessing a car crash.  They don't want to look, but they can't avert their eyes.

All of that is to say we don't know if this site played any role in yesterday's opening up of private meetings on public affairs, but we'll take yesterday's readership as a sign the public is truly interested in knowing about these types of shenanigans.  To that end, we'll be staying on top of this story. is reporting that the NCDOT "did not intend for the meetings to be closed."  Based on the correspondence we've received here, that statement is simply not credible.  We have verification from officials from multiple towns involved that these were supposed to be closed and that the method for keeping them closed was a deliberate attempt to avoid open meetings law.

However, if this wasn't the doing of NCDOT there is another possibility.  It is possible that the intent to keep these meetings closed was being driven locally and not by from the State level.  Remember this post about the lengths our local mayors would go to protect this project - North Meck Mayors + Speaker Thom Tillis (aka The HOT Lanes Bucket Brigade)?

Who really requested these meetings be closed?  That's something worth looking into. 

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