Now that he's tanned, rested, and ready after his five-day cruise in the Bahamas with fat-cat lobbyists, Governor Perry has had to defend himself against the slings and arrows of a bunch of good-government namby-pambies.
"We could have gone a lot of places," Mr. Perry said.
"I don't think where we went has a thing to do with whether or not there was real, progressive conversation. And there was progressive conversation made. I'm glad I went," he said.
During the three-day Presidents Day weekend last month, Mr. Perry, top staff members and spouses joined the governor's political consultant, the head of a conservative Austin think tank and anti-tax leader Grover Norquist on the Abaco Islands.
Also included were top Perry campaign donors Bobbi and John Nau and Cecelia and James Leininger, a strong advocate for public school vouchers.
Watchdog groups have criticized the trip as an example of how big givers gain unfettered access to the governor and exert undue influence on public policy.
In his first public discussion of the trip, Mr. Perry said Monday that the working retreat was just one of several conversations he has had recently with different groups. He said his office also has spoken with teachers, students and administrators. "I've talked to a lot of people," he said.
He likened the trip to one he took to Washington, D.C., last week to attend the Republican Governors Association meeting.
"Was it appropriate for me to go and stay at the White House the following week and talk to the president? I think so," Mr. Perry said.
[The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas], which seeks to ensure the public's business is conducted in public, sought agendas and 10 other types of written records related to the first meeting of the Governor's Management Council on Feb. 25.
Perry chose to shut the public out of all but his own introductory comments at the meeting attended by 11 "executive branch" agency heads and other officials.
In order to ensure a "free flow of information," Perry said after the meeting ended, it's "quite appropriate to close the doors."
Foundation attorney Joseph Larsen, of the Houston firm Ogden, Gibson, White, Broocks & Longoria, said that particular comment alarmed the open-government advocacy group, which is based in Dallas.
"He's apparently hostile to open government by his acts and deeds," Larsen said of Perry. "Going back to the entire government reorganization, he sought to completely close access to his working budget."
Larsen said the government reorganization also involved eliminating public boards and Perry is "maybe replacing them with this ad hoc committee the public doesn't have access to."
The best response I've seen so far to the Governor's Free Floating Fun Tour has been from State Rep. Jim Dunnam, chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, who sent a letter (Word doc) to the Governor inviting him on an all-expenses paid tour of the five poorest school districts in the state. I daresay his generosity will go unaccepted, however. Via the Quorum Report.Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 03, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack