So, it was announced late last night that the Utah Democrat party is taking the Utah Office of Legislative Research to court regarding the shenanigans surrounding redistricting documents. I, for one, am excited about this new development and it shows that the party is willing to fight for the right to see these documents.
I will fully admit that I have zero details about the details of the lawsuit, but what I do know is that the Utah State Legislature (or more specifically the Legislative Research office) have had this coming for a long time. They are withholding documents the Democrats have the right to see – after all, I still have the audacity to assume that Democrats are citizens of Utah as well who have the right to see how their government serves them.
We need to make our state officials know that stonewalling these, or any other document that is in the interest of the public (and produced with the public’s dollar) is unacceptable. To quote Jim Dabakis, Chair of the Utah Democratic Party “There is a dangerous precedent being set, public documents are being kept in secret, gathering dust behind closed doors.” Sadly, I am of the opinion that the precedent was set long ago, and leadership within the Utah State Legislature is just following the trend of looking down upon dissenters – and the push back is coming from the fact that someone is willing to stand up to them.
I’m sure the Republican members of the Utah State Legislature will say this is all politically motivated – but I would like to remind them that Democrats are legitimately working in the public’s interest, and that there is a very real chance that a few Democrats will get egg on their face as well. Hell, I am half certain that my name will pop up a time or two in some emails. To further counter these arguments, I point to a promise made by Dabakis that the documents will be made public and freely accessible, “as they should have been all along.” To even further counter this claim, I point out that access to these records were also denied to the Salt Lake Tribune and ABC4.
The redistricting process is one of the most important activities that takes place in a democracy, short of the ratification of a constitution or charter. It is not the place for the records office to play games or decide that, eh, they are not really in the interest of the public. I, for one, am happy we have a party chair and party leadership willing to fight for the rights of all Utahns to know exactly how the redistricting process takes place in this state.
I remind you all that this is exactly why we have branches of government.
Stay tuned folks, this should get fun.