Posts Tagged: ‘open government’

Pirate Party Endorsement

October 4, 2010 Posted by zachary

Today, the Pirate Party of Oklahoma has released their list of candidate endorsements. Out of all people running for office this year, only 26 were willing to respond to their request. Of those 26, only 4 responded with sufficient support for openness in our government to warrant an endorsement.

Zachary Knight is one of those 4.

As a bit of background for the Pirate Party, their “About Us” page describes their platform as follows:

The Pirate Party of Oklahoma is a new political party with the goal of promoting the Privacy Rights of Oklahomans, push for increased Government Transparency, advocate for Ballot Access Reform, and encourage reform of Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks. We are a member of the United States Pirate Party and are also associated with Pirate Parties International. The Pirate Party of Oklahoma was formed in January of 2010 with the signing of our Constitution.

As for their endorsement, this came based on my responses to a number of questions. These questions ranged from Open Access to government, protection from unwarranted wire tapping and searches and Ballot Access Reform. I have included a few examples below.

This is an endorsement I fully accept and encourage all to read the responses of those who are available on the Pirate Party site and see exactly how these issues affect you as a citizen of this state and nation.

On the issue of automated traffic monitoring systems, ie speed, red-light cameras, and other automated systems for identifying traffic violations:

I lived in Arizona for several years and experienced the automated speed and red light cameras. While I am sure those systems brought in quite a bit of revenue for the contractors who operated them, but not so much for the police departments. What is really worrisome about such systems is their inability to make judgment calls and read context of individual situations. The state should avoid such situations as they would bring on additional burden on the people while not increasing revenue for our underfunded police departments.
On laws preventing citizens from recording on-duty police officers:
Oklahoma is a one party consent state, meaning that only one side of a conversation being recorded whether in audio or video is required to consent to the recording. Any attempt to change those laws would violate our rights and a needed protection for the people. Our police force are public servants and they should be accountable to the people they serve. Retaining our one party consent status would allow the people to protect themselves from corruption and abuse.
On requiring the state legislature to comply with the Open Records Act:
All city, county and school government and agencies are required to comply with the open records act. There is not reason why our Legislative branch should not be held to the exact same standard. In order to hold our legislative members accountable, we need to have an open and accurate record of what they are doing in office. I can see a need to protect correspondence with individuals of a legislator’s constituency, but any correspondence with registered lobbyists, state agencies and other legislators should be open to public scrutiny.
Finally, on Ballot Access Reform:
As an independent, I am affected directly by Oklahoma’s current Ballot Access laws. I have come to realize that yes they are the most restrictive and there is no reason to keep them as is, other than reducing competition for incumbent parties. When elected, I plan on working with other legislators in writing and passing sweeping reform in the state. This will include reducing the required number of signatures to [5000] as it was prior to 1974 and changing ballot access laws to remove language that writes the incumbent parties into law.
To read the full list of questions and Zachary’s responses, you can follow this link.

State Question No. 751: A Unified Language

September 27, 2010 Posted by zachary

State Question 751 seeks to make English the official language of Oklahoma. The Language is as follows:

This measure amends the State Constitution.  It adds a new Article to the Constitution.  That Article deals with the State’s official actions.  It dictates the language to be used in taking official State action.  It requires that official State actions be in English.  Native American languages could also be used.  When Federal law requires, other languages could also be used.

These language requirements apply to the State’s “official actions.”  The term “official actions” is not defined. The Legislature could pass laws determining the application of the language requirements.  The Legislature would also pass laws implementing and enforcing the language requirements.

No lawsuit based on State law could be brought on the basis of a State agency’s failure to use a language other than English.  Nor could such a lawsuit be brought against political subdivisions of the State.

This question would make all official State business to be only conducted in English and Native American languages. This means that official business with the state cannot be conducted in languages such as Spanish or French.

This question could have some budget saving implications in that printed material from the state will only be printed in select languages. This will also help to increase productivity in our government processes.

There are concerns that this is a targeted measure against illegal immigration from Mexico, but I do not feel that this will negatively affect legal immigration from outside the US. Legal immigrants recognize the need to learn and speak the native language spoken in the US and will make efforts to do business in English.

Vote Yes on SQ 751

State Question No. 747: Term Limits

September 27, 2010 Posted by zachary

State Question 747 creates term limits for all state wide elected officials. The language is as follows:

This measure amends sections 4 and 23 of Articles 6 and section 15 of Article 9 of the State Constitution.

It limits the ability of voters to re-elect statewide elected officers by limiting how many years those officers can serve.  It limits the number of years a person may serve in each statewide elected office.  Service as Governor is limited to eight years.  Service as Lieutenant Governor is limited to eight years.  Service as Attorney General is limited to eight years.  Service as Treasurer is limited to eight years.  Service as Commissioner of Labor is limited to eight years.  Service as Auditor and Inspector is limited to eight years. Service as Superintendent of Public Instruction is limited to eight years.  Service as Insurance Commissioner is limited to eight years.  Service as a Corporation Commissioner is limited to twelve years. Service for less than a full term would not count against the limit on service.  Years of service need not be consecutive for the limits to apply. Officers serving when this measure is passed can complete their terms.  All such serving officers, except the Governor, can also serve an additional eight or twelve years.

I support this measure. I believe that all elected officials should serve limited terms in office. I believe that instituting term limits in the legislature was one of the best things done for our state government in a long time.

This coupled with limits on lobbyist spending is a strong influence in preserving ethics in our government and elected officials. creating term limits also limits the ability of politicians from becoming “career politicians” who care for nothing other than getting reelected. If politicians know they will only be serving a limited time, they will work harder to pass legislation and policies that benefit the people they represent.

Vote Yes on SQ 747

State Question No. 748: A State Divided

September 1, 2010 Posted by zachary

Every 10 years the Federal Government holds a nation wide census. This census is done to count the number of people living in the nation. This counting greatly affects many aspects of not only the Federal Government but also our State Governments.

One of the biggest effects had by the census is in our representation in both the State and Federal government. The census determines how many Representatives each state has in the Federal government. Oklahoma currently has 5. This number is not expected to change, but if it does, the census will let us know.

The state also has an opportunity to redraw our State and Federal Representative districts the year following a census. That will be happening this coming 2011 Session, but with a potential change. On the November Election Ballot, the voters will be asked a question that changes the way the commission assigned to redrawing the districts is formed. The text is as follows:

This measure amends Sections 11A and 11B of Article 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution.  These provisionsdeal with how the Legislature is divided into districts.  This process is known as apportionment.  The Legislature must make an apportionment after each ten-year federal census.  If the Legislature fails to act, an Apportionment Commission must do so.  The measure changes the name of this Commission.  It removes all three existing Commission members.  It removes the Attorney General.  It removes the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  It also removes the State Treasurer.

The measure increases the number of members from three to seven.  The President Pro Tempore of the Senate appoints one Democrat and one Republican.  The Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints one Democrat and one Republican.  The Governor appoints one Democrat and one Republican.

The measure provides that the Lieutenant Governor chairs the Commission and is a nonvoting member.  It requires orders of apportionment to be signed by at least four members of the Commission.

The proposed change will change the way members are added in a supposed “bi-partisan” way. This will include 3 representatives of the Republican Party and 3 representatives of the Democratic Party. This sounds good on the surface, but there a couple of big issues. Why are there no representatives of the over 300 thousand registered Independents in this state? Additionally, this language would exclude any new parties that form in this state.

As a supporter of voter freedom and Ballot Access Reform, I cannot support any effort to write any political party into our state constitution. The language of this amendment flies in the face of what I hold a supreme right of the people of this state. What will happen when one of these parties fails and is no longer recognized in this state (not that that will happen since both the Democratic and Republican Parties are written into our election laws, but that is a topic for another article)? The people will once again have to amend the State Constitution to account for that change.

With all that in mind, I will be voting no on this measure and I recommend that all people do the same.

A “No Gift List”: A Simple Tool to Build an Ethical Government

July 31, 2010 Posted by zachary

No Gift ListEarlier this year, Representative Jason Murphy of Guthrie went around our legislature to get support of a “No Gift List.” The purpose of this list is to allow State Representatives and Senators to identify themselves as legislators who will not accept gifts from lobbyists and special interests. This list would allow our legislators, the people we elect to represent us, to show they are only looking out for our interests and not those of lobbyists and special interest groups.

This effort has been met with opposition from those very same people.

This year, he did manage to get the support of six other legislators, State Senators Bill Brown, Anthony Sykes and Randy Brogdon and State Representatives Charles Key, Mike Reynolds and Mike Ritze.

It is a shame that only a total of seven legislators are willing to show their support of the voters.

What is really a shame is the lack of my opponent, Scott Martin, on that list of supporters of the “No Gift List.” So where was he when Rep. Murphy was seeking support? Probably out to lunch with one of the number of lobbyists who have wined and dined him since he was elected in 2006.

Since 2006, Scott Martin has accepted $2,966.39 in lobbyist gifts. These include everything from meals to banquets to watches to season tickets to OU football. He wasted no time in buddying up to lobbyists and accepted his first lobbyist gift within a month of being elected.

Do you really want someone who is willing to sell themselves off to the highest bidder representing you? I know I don’t.

I promise to never accept gifts from any lobbyist or special interest while I am running for office and when I am elected. I am here to represent you, the voters and citizens of House District 46. I am not here to represent lobbyists and special interests.

When I am elected, I will work with Representative Murphy, Senator Sykes and others to get this “No Gift List” passed and put into effect. We owe it to those who elected us to show our support of you.

If you would like to see for yourself who Scott Martin really serves, you can visit the State Ethics Commission’s Public Disclosure website.

Primaries Are Over. Let the Real Work Begin.

July 29, 2010 Posted by zachary

Zachary Knight, Profile Photo

Zachary Knight, Profile Photo

We had our primaries and have made decisions. Some of those decisions resulted in a final choice for office. Some decided who we are going to vote for come November.

Now our focus should be on the November election.

Here in House District 46 we have two people running, Scott Martin and myself. I am an Independent who believes in personal as well as economical liberty. I support an open and ethical government.  I want to give the people of Oklahoma the deciding vote in their future.

Over the next 3 months I will be working hard to get to know the people of District 46. I want to find out what it is you are looking for in a Representative. What issues you find most important and why. I am running to be your spokesperson in the Capital. I am not here to make the decisions for you. Our government was designed to give you the voice not a small group of people who sit in a conference all day for four months out of the year.

If you would like to schedule me to speak at an event or be available for a question and answer session please contact me using any method provided in my contact page.

Additionally, I am in need of you support. You can support me by making a donation of your time, talents or money. Any help provided will be in support of personal and economical liberty for the state of Oklahoma. To donate your time or talents, you can contact me directly, or if you would like to make a monetary donation, you can use the donation form available.

I want to thank everyone that has shown their support already and those that will be providing their support in the future. I look forward to representing the people of Oklahoma and specifically those living in District 46.

The Opposite of an Open Government

June 16, 2010 Posted by zachary

RJ Harris for US Congress 2010I completely support the idea of a government that is completely open in all its proceedings. This is one of the key points of my campaign. It is a shame to learn that there are some people that want to keep government dealings hidden from the eyes and ears of the people they are supposed to be serving.

It comes to me as no surprise to learn recently that RJ Harris was banned from all Cleveland County GOP events because he dared to allow people to post videos of a recent Straw Poll event on his Facebook and Youtube accounts.(source)

Not only was he banned for supporting openness in events leading to the State Primary, the event itself was less than open. The people running the event decided to force people to answer the poll prior to hearing either candidate speak. There is a big problem with that. People had little information going into the event and were then forced to vote in the dark so to speak. Many attendees stated they would have voted differently had they been able to vote after the event.

Is this what we as citizens of Oklahoma want? Are the people that banned RJ Harris the type of people we want leading our country? If this party does not want openness in even the primary events, will they support openness in government proceedings?

There are some people in the Republican party that support openness and RJ Harris is one of them. But there are far more people that would rather not provide the people of this state the information they need to make informed decisions.

If I am elected to State Representative, I will push strongly for openness in all government proceedings. I will work to make sure all public meetings of our government are broadcast online as well as on public television. I will work to make our bill tracking software easier to use.

Even during my campaign I will be available to answer any question you may have about my positions. Visit my contact page to find my personal email, cell phone, Twitter account, Facebook account and mailing address. I will respond in a timely manner to all requests for information.

Support openness in our election and government proceedings. Don’t let anyone deny information vital to our public good.