Andy’s Newspaper column archive

Is there a world you can’t see, that’s invisible?  ©

Would you like to be anonymous? How about invisible? How about just being left alone? Would that be just as good as being invisible? Believe it or not there are people who desire invisibility when it comes to who they are, what they have done, even when there are good things that have occurred. Our citizens deserve their privacy but when should privacy of individuals not be protected?

There can be several instances of invisibility that come to mind. The first is people in government, no exceptions.  How often have we watched, listened to, or read about some unidentified person in government making an official statement that referred to the finance department, the maintenance department, or statements such as “we decided” or “after review it was determined”, “ Staff recommends”,  etc in reference to bad press. Bill Kohbarger, when he was conducting a meeting made that very statement. It was a staff recommendation. So I asked him who was the staff making the recommendation. He hesitated a moment and then said it was me. I thanked him for being candid and appreciated his candor.

Approximately 20 years ago there was a Federal employee in California who wanted to shut down Interstate ten in Fontana to preserve some tiny fly. Her comment was, “I'm with the government. We can do anything we want.” I never saw her name in print.

Oh, there are lots of these around. Give me names of who is responsible for the screw up or the job well done. One meeting I attended in San Bernardino County where the government representative was discussing a particularly overbearing action by County government. He had used the phrase,”We decided to implement this plan”, and so I asked him, “just who is we? Can you give us a name?” He responded that the department reviewed the data and decided to move forward with the plan. I pressed him again and got the standard line. Since I had the floor I pursued the question several more times. We all watched him dance the dance. The rest of the audience wanted to know also but we could not extract a specific name. He either didn't know the answer or was protecting a specific individual. It was probably him. Eventually the meeting moved on. He won, we lost. He kept his job, we paid the price.

Another instance of hiding an individuals identity from the public was a news story about an anonymous woman who wore excessive and powerful perfume to work. It was too much to bear by her co workers. The company she worked for had a meeting with her requesting that she tone it down in deference to the other employees. The woman filed a lawsuit against the company claiming discrimination.  The company was publicly interviewed, but the woman’s identity was never reported. It should be. Once she filed a lawsuit it became public record. Oh, it was because of her race or color. That part was openly mentioned in the report. 

Another area of anonymity is with organizations. Can you believe that right here in Pahrump there are some officers and individuals who have information like email voluntarily provided to their organization and then they complain that other members got their Email address?  

There are also instances of  organization bylaws being withheld from the members when they asked for a copy. The message seems to be do as I say but don't communicate with me about the rules. As you may know, organizations are run by rules as set in their bylaws. Every member should receive or at least have access to a copy when they sign up and pay their required fees. In one instance I know, even directors did not have a copy. In situations like this  administrations can run amuck. The members, who have voted these individuals in to a position of responsibility  and trust, can wind up being very unhappy. Having access to the instructions as to how the organization works is essential to good governance.

Consider the issue of age. Oh yes, there is anonymity there too, and only one day can make the difference. We learn  of someone under eighteen years old committing a serious crime, robbery, murder, arson. Their name is withheld because of their age and they use it to advantage. So at seventeen years and three hundred sixty four days you are invisible, but at eighteen we can finally see you, maybe. It seems too often that intentional obvious acts are being characterized as mistakes. He robbed the convenience store. Shot the clerk. It’s on the security camera tape. He just made a mistake. Oh, he was on the security video shooting the clerk but his name is withheld and is referred to as the suspect. What???!!! Shouldn’t you want to know who did the act, whether it is government, an organization or a  private citizen.

One of the rationales for hiding identities is fear of lawsuits or recrimination. You hear it all the time. This should not be too difficult to solve. The officials elected to the legislature can write protections in to the law for whistle blowers, and enforce it. After all, didn't the Nevada legislature remove the word idiot from language in the State records?

Now what about those ID chips that have been implanted in animals and medic alert chips in people. The ID chips are being put in the wrong people. I would like a paper and electronic trail of where all my elected officials and government employees are at any given time. This would help to establish the truth about what they have been up to on our behalf. Public should mean public. There’s no hiding. There’s G.P.S., Cell phones, video phones, video cameras, license plate readers, face recognition equipment, DNA, fingerprints or street cameras? The invisible is starting to become visible.  

Now, can we really search for the truth?

Andrew Alberti