Friday, May 02, 2008

Public Docs are NOT public when you are Bill Fox?

UT economist Bill Fox's salary is paid by the taxpayers and he has enormous (some would say far too much) influence over budget decisions. He presented information yesterday about the State budget in a committee in a public presentation. When asked by reporters for copies of information which he had just presented in public he refused.

In addition to being bizarre and just plain silly, this is completely unacceptable and an insult to citizens. This kind of arrogance can not be tolerated.


A couple of bar charts comparing tax data — hardly fuel for high drama — spurred a hot pursuit through the state Capitol complex this week, all because officials wouldn't release documents discussed in a public meeting broadcast live on the Internet.

Two sheets comparing tax collections in Tennessee to those of other states were passed out Tuesday morning by economist Bill Fox to members of the State Funding Board. The board sought to grasp the depth of the state's financial troubles, and Fox described to them a "perfect storm" of economic woes that could prompt up millions in budget cuts.

But Fox's documents weren't for all eyes. He said the information had been given to him informally, and therefore was not meant for distribution, even though it was handed out in a public meeting that could be watched via live streaming video on the Web. "I haven't broadly passed these out, because these were done as a favor to me," he explained before he launched into a description of their contents for several minutes.

When a Tennessean reporter asked for copies, the request was denied, and Fox later retrieved the documents from the board members.