Marty not happy with ‘cone of silence’ attitude

Minnesota’s best-known open-government legislator says a federal group now agrees that state leaders’ “cone of silence” is not good.

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity gave Minnesota an “F” in its most recent report card on financial disclosure.

“As for open meetings, remember the ‘cone of silence,’ the humorous term Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers gave to last summer’s closed-door budget negotiations between legislators and the governor?” Marty asked. “This lack of openness is so routine that the public, news reporters and most legislators accept it as a given, even if they believe it’s wrong.”

Marty said that since the budget passed last July, after a government shutdown, was so bad that it proves “the lack of openness doesn’t produce better results.”

The senator, a two-time governor candidate, said Minnesota policy makers often met behind closed doors through the years until Marty led a movement to open government up in the 1970s.

“Minnesota is no longer a leader, not just because other states have gone further, but also because our openness has been slipping away,” Marty said. “Routine committee meetings are still open to the public, but many of the most important policy and budget decisions are now made behind closed doors, in conference committee negotiations and in budget talks between the governor and legislative leaders.”

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