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Auchter's Art: Accountable transparency

John Auchter
Michigan Radio

I can tell you that the cartoon this week is not partisan, but that's really for you to decide. On the surface, it's me quoting the current Democratic leader directly and without comment, then dinging the two previous Republican leaders. But I had a deeper aim. It all started with Governor Whitmer's State of the State address this week.

As far as "State of" speeches go, it was pretty standard fare — a laundry list of goals and intentions. For an editorial cartoon, that's really not much to work with. But the one point that really resonated with me was her promise (and I heard it as a promise) to make the executive and legislative branches accountable to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

It occurred to me that the disasters Michigan has faced in the recent past have all been made much, much worse by leaders trying to manage and hide information: Flint water crisis, Detroit schools, campaign finance laws, and Larry Nassar, to name a few.

And while former Governor Rick Snyder and former Senate Leader Arlan Meekhof are obviously not solely to blame, they were certainly among the least transparent leaders Michigan has ever had. And that's what I'm calling them out on — not their party affiliation, but their actual record.

So let's make a point of remembering the FOIA part of Whitmer's address. Because often the one making the promise turns into the worst offender. ("Drain the swamp" anyone?) If the governor is ambitious enough to promise transparency, we need to be ambitious enough to hold her accountable.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganPublic.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.
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