Slash Boxes
NOTE: use Perl; is on undef hiatus. You can read content, but you can't post it. More info will be forthcoming forthcomingly.

All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

use Perl Log In

Log In

[ Create a new account ]

Ovid (2709)

  (email not shown publicly)
AOL IM: ovidperl (Add Buddy, Send Message)

Stuff with the Perl Foundation. A couple of patches in the Perl core. A few CPAN modules. That about sums it up.

Journal of Ovid (2709)

Friday May 09, 2003
06:14 PM

Karen Minnis Sold Her Votes to Microsoft

[ #12104 ]

Feel free to email Representative Minnis and tell her what you think.

She's the Speaker of the House for the State of Oregon. Recently, House Bill 2892 was killed by her before it could be debated in the House. This bill ordered government agencies to consider open source software. It did not require them to use it, but merely to consider this software when making acquisitions. Given that we have the shortest school year in the nation, are taking away medical benefits from many indigent people and are granting early release from prison to felons because we don't have enough money, it seems to make sense that we consider less expensive alternatives to software which costs our state millions of dollars.

In fact, the only serious opposition to the bill appeared to be large software companies who sent in their lobbyists to defeat the bill. So why, one might wonder, would Representative Minnis not allow this bill to be debated on the floor of the House? She merely claims that it's a solution in search of a problem. If that's the case, there was no need for her to personally kill the bill and not allow debate, was there?

Below is the body of the email that I sent to her office (and that I now understand is gaining wider circulation):


I appear to live just outside of your district, which I find somewhat disappointing as this denies me the opportunity to vote against you in the next election.

Your statement in the Tuesday Oregonian, where you object to House Bill 2892 (the "open source" bill), makes it very clear that you cannot be trusted to put the interests of the people in front of your own.

While my vote won't count, I hope to ensure that others who hear me will remember this. I first learned about your behavior and your disingenuous comments at the Portland City Club today (5/9/2003) after receiving information about you from several mailing lists (Portland Linux Users Group, Eugene Linux Users Group and Portland Perl Mongers). There appear to be more and more people hearing about you personally killing this bill.

On the plus side, if you believe that there's no such thing as bad publicity, you're getting plenty of it:

Of course, you'll be getting a bit more exposure, too. I'll be happily forwarding this email to my friends. Who knows? Maybe one of them will get a chance to vote against you.

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
More | Login | Reply
Loading... please wait.
  • It may indeed have been a solution in search of a problem. That's something that should have been debated. Silently killing HB 2892 raises some unpleasant questions [].

  • by hfb (74) on 2003.05.10 5:25 (#19982) Homepage Journal

    up on some of the places who have started to use OSS in government with some real, hard numbers to back up the cost savings claims? Aside from the obvious savings of the initial purchase cost, all software costs real money in terms of training and support. I don't much care for M$ but the OSS zealotry has gotten a lot worse in the last few years, to the point of being very unappealing to many people. 50 different support contracts vs. 1 is not compelling either.

    In the short term, it is highly unlikely that switching to OSS will save enough money for schools and health care. Even before there was M$ there was never enough money for schools and healthcare. There must be more effective ways to appeal for OSS than to legislate its use or consideration of its use.

    • I tend to lean towards the open-source end of things simply because being able to audit the code has plenty of benefits that I won't belabor here. I am not a free software zealot, however. Some free software is great. Some free software is miserable. That's not what bothers me here.

      My concern with Minnis' actions is that she personally killed this bill rather than allow an open debate on the topic. Would OSS and free software be a boon to government? Who knows? However, I would much prefer that the

      • Discussion, sure, but I don't see how legislating the matter forcing them to consider OSS is a viable path to getting such a discussion. It seems the antithesis of OSS in fact. I'd rather see those who wish such consideration by governments to produce some real economic data which they would be unable to ignore. Turku, Finland [] and their ministry of finance would be a fine place to begin collecting data on the fiscal benefits of considering OSS as a cost-cutting solution to M$. Talk is cheap and generally on

        • This week's Economist [] has an article [] that relates to this, tangentially. It notes that Amazon is saving $20 million due to a move towards linux. It also mentions how Google is saving money by using open source as well as commoditized hardware.

          I would dearly love to have an alternative to using WinXP but "it's what the students want" and so I'm deploying it to my computer labs (that's the very short story).

          As you wrote, until we see some hard numbers it will be difficult to prove to PHB's that OSS is a goo
          • Amazon is a tech company though and that's a vasty different population compared to the average government office filled with paper pushers and those not terribly interested in how the computer works. The same goes for google.

            Do I disagree that OSS is good? In some situations, yes. M$, for all its flaws, knows its market and how to market to them and have never tried to introduce ludicrous legislation to force people to consider their software [ not that I'm aware of anyway ]. Until one of the big outsou

          • It notes that Amazon is saving $20 million due to a move towards linux. It also mentions how Google is saving money by using open source as well as commoditized hardware.

            Yeah, stories from Amazon, Yahoo and Google are tangentially interesting, but not particularly relevant to government IT spending. Governments are not corporations. They have similar concerns when it comes to managing a network of thousands of users, but that's really where the similarity ends.

            As a matter of high level government p

    • has anyone ever followed up on some of the places who have started to use OSS in government with some real, hard numbers to back up the cost savings claims?

      Yes, many times, in many different angles. Off the top of my head, I can recall summaries from the State of Rhode Island, the State of Hawaii, the State of Utah, multiple offices within the US Federal Government, the Army Corps of Engineers, a few municipalities in Colorado, some mental health hospitals in Ohio, and numerous parts of the Department

      • Where are all these studies? Have any of them made the numbers publicly available along with their methodology?

        I still think proposing bills forcing choice or usage of any kind of software, even OSS, couched as 'advocacy' are an extremely poor choice. Correcting the present policies would be a more sane and 'democratic' alternative. Policies are not laws. You cannot litigate choice.

        It's doubtful that the problem is ultimately about money rather power.

  • "No such thing as bad publicity" is for people in the entertainment business, not politicians. :-)
    • Hmm ... what is it for the politicians now? Oh, yes: "A politician can overcome anything except a live boy or a dead girl."

      I seem to recall that Ed Kennedy disproved the latter.

      • Edward/Ted. Regardless, it is possible to overcome anything (Congressman Gerry Studds disproved the former), but it can take time. Trent Lott's statements of late last year didn't sink him permanently, but they seriously damaged him. The point isn't that these things cannot be overcome, just that there is nothing good about certain types of publicity, if you're a politician.