There’s a form of mental illness called Dissociative Identity Disorder, which used to go by the name of Multiple Personality Disorder. Many people are familiar with the Hollywood version of the condition from its use as a plot device in movies like Psycho and Fight Club.
One of the really interesting things about the real-life version is that, even though all the personalities in a person share the same cognitive hardware, so to speak, some of the personalities can keep secrets from the others.
One of my favorite real-life cases involved a woman who had one personality that was deathly afraid of spiders. To prank the first personality, a second personality would periodically put a spider in a little box, wrap it as a gift, and leave it where the first would find it, open it, and recoil in horror.
I think about this sometimes when I read about government agencies keeping secrets — lately, about school boards negotiating in secret with teachers’ unions. They create something scary (a contract), wrap it as a gift, and wait for the public to open it up and recoil in horror.
In a country where ‘the government’ is supposed to be synonymous with ‘the people’, a government that is able to keep secrets from the people suffers from what we might call Dissociative Government Disorder.
There’s an easy cure, which is partly implemented by HB206. That bill seeks to make negotiation sessions (where both sides are present, as opposed to strategy sessions, where just one side is present) during collective bargaining open to the public, so that the public can watch the spider being wrapped, instead of having to wait for the surprise.
The Washington Post likes to say that democracy dies in darkness. Not coincidentally, that’s also where budget increases flourish.
Interestingly, like CACR8 (which effectively seeks to add ‘and we really mean it!’ to Article 2-a), HB206 is what we might call a ‘Follow the Constitution’ bill.
That is, Part 1, Article 8 of the state constitution already says that
All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them.
At all times. Not just when it’s convenient, or when it wouldn’t reveal those officers and magistrates to be corrupt or biased or incompetent.
So there should really be no need for a bill like HB206. Effectively, it just says that where collective bargaining is concerned, ‘at all times’ really means at all times.
But this is the world we live in now — a world where statutes have to be passed to enforce constitutions.