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May 24, 1963 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1963-05-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE MICHIGAN DAILY PA

Managed News' Hinders Lansing Press

I.

over the administration's plan.
The final decision on whether
there will be any new legislation
may well hinge on the weight giv-
en the two referendum influences.l
Should the administration andf
congressional policymakers fin-
ally decide that the freedom-from-+
controls issue was a major cause
of the defeat, there would be small
chance of new legislation.E
Alternative Program
On the other hand, should they
decide the vote swung on the ex-'
pectation of an alternative pro-
gram, chances of new legislation
would be greatly improved.
Democrats could, hardly oppose
new legislation in view of the 1964
election. This could give Republi-
cans an issue which they would
be 'expected to use to strengthen
their hold on the normally Re-
publican farm areas of the mid-
west and great plains.
Yet, some Democrats hold the
view that it would be useless for
their party to try to win in this
area.
Cotton Legislation
A need for new cotton legisla-
tion to replace the existing two-
price system with its unfavorable
effects on domestic use of cotton
could figure in eventual action on,
new wheat legislation. There is a;
possibility that cotton state Dem-
ocrats would join with Republi-
cans to pass a wheat-cotton bill
over administration opposition, as-
suming the administration decid-
ed to fight new wheat proposals.
Still another factor which could
influence congressional action on a
wheat bill is the fact that many
lawmakers, particularly from urb-
an areas, are expressing them-
selves as being fed up with squab-
bling over farm legislation. Many
have voted for such legislation in
the last two years only under
strong party pressure.
Not to be discounted in the leg-
islative outlook for wheat is the
fact a number of Senate Demo-
crats from wheat states come up
for reelection next year. Not the
least of these is Majority Leader
Mike Mansfield (D-Mont).
Terms Expire
Others whose terms expire in
1964 include Sens. Quentin N. Bur-
dick (D-ND), Philip A. Hart (D-
Mich), Vance Hartke (D-Ind), Eu-
gene J. McCarthy (D-Minn), Wil-
liam Proxmire (D-Wis), Stuart
Symington (D-Mo), Ralph Yar-
borough (D-Tex) and Stephen M.
Young (D-Ohio). They may insist
that the Democrats push for new
wheat legislation.
The administration itself has
cause for wanting. a. program that
would prevent the unlinited pro-
duction of wheat which would be
permitted in event of no new leg-
islation.
A big wheat crop in 1964 could
weaken the administration feed
grain program designed to help
reduce surpluses of corn.
With unlimited production wheat
could sell under sell corn at prices
set for corn under the feed grain
program. Thus wheat would dis-
place much corn in livestock pro-
duction, resulting in a possible in-
crease in feed grain surpluses.

By GENE SCHROEDER
Associated Press News Analyst
LANSING-The current furor
over "manged news" and freedom
of information in Washington un-
derscores the fact that state gov-
ernment in Michigan is not ex-
actly an open book.
The basic principle that people
in a democracy have a right to
know how public officials are,
handling public affairs is some-
times resisted by state politicians
whose salaries come . out of the
taxpayers' pocketbooks.
Newsmen reporting the Michi-
gan capital scene have fairly lib-
eral privilegessin covering the Leg-
islature in its open sessions and;
most .lawmakers seem to agree on
the importance of keeping the,
public informed-up to a point.
Closed Doors
But much of the real decision-
making in the Legislature takes
place behind closed doors in se-
cret committee meetings.
Although sudden death can come
to some major and highly contro-
versial bills in such star chambers
proceedings, no official disclosure
is made on how individual com-
mittee members voted on the
measures or even the total com-
mittee vote for and against.
Whether through timidity or -ar-
rogance or both, some legislators
feel the people back home should
not know how their representatives
voted on specific issues. If the
voters did know, they might be
surprised at what they learned
and throw the rascals out at the
next election.
Adverse Effects
Defenders of the closed com-
mittee system invariably come up
with the example that if the
press disclosed plans for property
acquisitions when they are dis-
cussed at appropriations hearings
it would cost the taxpaying public
millions of dollars in skyrocketed
prices for the land.
But even this argument was
weakened recently with the dis-
closure that at least one congress-
man apparently used his inside
knowledge from such a hearing to

profit on some land acquisitions
in Washington.
Most newsmen probably would
agree that in some isolated cases
the need for secrecy is apparent.
Isolated Cases
What is not so apparent to re-
porters, however, is how this rea-
soning can justify a blanket policy
of refusal to reveal how lawmakers
voted on controversial matters
that are killed in committee.
Examples of news management
or suppression in the past year
are not confined to the Legisla-
ture:
1) The board of education held
a secret meeting at which it made
a decision on some multimillion-
dollar Flint property and then
held up the public announcement
until the interested parties could
be informed by mail.
Secret Sessions
The board also met secretly to
consider the North Central As-
sociation of Schools and Colleges
report on Eastern Michigan Uni-
versity. While a general summary
of the document has been released,
its significant details still remain
secret.
2) The State Agricultural Com-
mission closed its doors to the
public and press last fall when it
was deciding on some aspects of
a spray program against Japanese
beetles in Monroe and Lenawee
counties.
3) The Board of State Canvas-
sers attempted to prevent news-
men from checking official county
election figures against unofficial
reports, until the attorney general
pointed out that such figures are
public information under the law.
No Explanation
4) The Supreme Court, as it
frequently does, handed down a
one-word decision-"denied"-in
throwing out a petition challeng-
ing the legality of the election
procedure under which the new
Constitution was adopted. There
was no explanation of the judicial
reasoning or interpretation involv-
ed.
Ironically, under the new Con-
stitution the court will hence-

forth be required to explain its
decisions.
5) The "blue-ribbon" Citizen's
Committee for Higher Education
meets in secret, despite requests
for open sessions and the general
interest of the academic commun-
ity. Gov. George Romney has call-
ed its work "the most important
in shaping the state's future."
Freedom of Information
The new Constitution strikes a
blow for freedom of information
in other areas as well.
Legislative committees will be
required to make public a record-
ed roll call vote on all actions on
bills and resolutions, although se-
cret meetings still will be permit-
ted. All local government budget
hearings must be open to the
public, and the governing boards
of all tax-supported universities
must open their meetings to the
public and the press.

For years, newsmen covering
board sessions at the University
and Michigan State University
have been merely "inviked guests,"
and the invitations can be with-
drawn at any time.
Open Records
The revised Constitution also de-
clares that keepers of the state's
purse-strings must make available
for public inspection "all financial
records, accountings, audit reports
and other reports on public mon-
ies."
This is in keeping with the spirit
of an oft-quoted statement from
the annals of Michigan's Supreme
Court. "If there be any rule of the
English common law that denies
the public the right of access to
public records, it is repugnant to
the spirit of our democratic in-
stitutions.
"Ours is a government of the
people. Every citizen rules."

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