“the citizenry has a right to scrutinise the state.” –Julian Assange

Some people compare LAKE to Wikileaks, so let’s go there. Julian Assange, like Wendell Berry, links the civil rights movement and the environmental movement. He then says:
“For the Internet generation this is our challenge and this is our time. We support a cause that is no more radical a proposition than that the citizenry has a right to scrutinise the state. The state has asserted its authority by surveilling, monitoring and regimenting all of us, all the while hiding behind cloaks of security and opaqueness. Surely it was only a matter of time before citizens pushed back and we asserted our rights.”

LAKE’s motto is:

Citizen dialog for transparent process
That makes Assange’s proposition
“the citizenry has a right to scrutinise the state”
sound very familiar to us.

Locally it’s more a matter of elected and appointed bodies ignoring their chartered responsibilities to the public good and the general welfare. Well, many people are also tired of the permit inspection brigade, but that’s another story.

Assange also adds:

“Individuals, not governments, have a right to privacy. Strong powers must be held to account, while the weak must be protected. We believe in transparent power, not in transparent people. We publish material that is in the public interest. For us as the European Court of Human Rights and the British Court of Appeals has held, the decisive factor in balancing the protection of private life against freedom of expression should like in the contribution the material has make to the debate of general interest.”
In the U.S. I think the relevant law is called the First Amendment, as was re-confirmed in the Pentagon Papers case. I am not a lawyer, so let’s let Judge Napolitano handle it:

“And so the Court ruled, that whenever members of the media come upon government documents of public interest, no matter how secret, no matter how they got them, there can be no liability, civil or criminal, for publishing them.”

Topics clearly in the general interest locally include but are not limited to water, the environment in general, incarceration, and especially planning, or, as we put it, covering the planners to connect the dots. In a word: transparency.

Assange continued:

“I find it interesting that some politicians who have no intention of applying the precautionary principle when it comes to the environment, but assert it when it comes to our reporting. They conjure up hypothetical scenarios and claim that somehow someday our stories might somehow harm someone somewhere.”
We have not seen much of that explicitly locally. Now of course LAKE isn’t a sizeable professional news organization like Wikileaks. Although LAKE does qualify as a news medium according to the OPEN Government Act of 2007 (more on that in a later post), LAKE is just curious citizens; a small core group and a larger loosely connected group of associates. You can be LAKE, too!

We certainly have seen local elected and appointed officials refusing to take risk into account regarding the environment.

We did get a request from a prominent local university to delete already-published videos and pictures. Naturally LAKE refused.

We have seen hints of

Safety concerns about the citizens-to-be-heard section of commission meetings…
“We cannot stop anybody from taking video of a session; but we can limit them to one area; it’s distracting to us and to citizens to have somebody running around the session trying to get different angles,” said Joe Pritchard, county manager.
Maybe they’ll get more used to working in the daylight as time goes by and perhaps they’ll even realize that the citizenry is not their enemy.

-jsq for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange