03/13/12 — Fight for 'open': Secrecy and private meetings are the first dangerous steps

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Fight for 'open': Secrecy and private meetings are the first dangerous steps

Government secrecy is a stealth maneuver.

You almost never see it coming -- or feel its consequences -- until it is too late.

That's why so many people who work with public officials are so concerned about keeping records open, the public informed and the meetings of legislators and others who serve open and honest.

And that is not always easy. The laws vary from state to state and most public officials do look for ways, also known as loopholes, to keep information and discussions under wraps.

Cloak and dagger work from the past is part of the reason so many times citizens did not find out the information they needed to know to prevent poor decision-making or to stop back door dealings and patronage.

And there are still some of the same problems today.

If there is one right a free people have to make a priority, it is the one that guarantees them access to information.

The Sunshine Act, and efforts by media all over the country to open up the dealings of government and to force lawmakers to make decisions and documents open to the people they serve, are ways to safeguard our rights as a citizenry to effect change, to choose policies and to make informed decisions about how we think our local governments are doing.

And it is critical that we keep an eye on -- and put a stop to -- any effort to limit that possibility.

Knowledge is power, especially now.

Published in Editorials on March 13, 2012 10:53 AM