• No public value in airing texts
    October 04,2012
     

    No public value in airing texts

    I am grateful to both The Times Argus and The Burlington Free Press for using their journalistic mandate to push for greater government transparency and openness. As a city councilor I have tried to do the same, working to implement the system that makes Montpelier meetings available on demand online along with all of the relevant materials for all of our agenda items.

    Regarding the text messages reprinted in the Oct. 2 article “Montpelier records request yields councilors’ texts,” I clearly exercised bad judgment by carrying on back-channel conversations with fellow council members during the Sept. 26 meeting. It is unfortunate that I did not return Eric Blaisdell’s phone call during the 10 hours he allowed between his voicemail to me and the publication of this article. Had I done so I hope we would have agreed to limit the disclosure of these messages to those relevant to the issues of public interest before the council.

    Given the lack of public value in the text messages reprinted, I can only assume that the goal of the publication was sensation and embarrassment — and on the second count at least it has succeeded. I am properly embarrassed that these offhand remarks have been made public and hope that no malice or attempt to covertly shape policy is attributed to them.

    Andy Hooper

    Montpelier City Council, District 1

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