Archive for Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A reminder for sunshine

March 19, 2008

Across the United States, National Sunshine Week is in full swing.

No, it's not the same as spring break. Nor is it a week wishing for the end of dreary, cloudy and rainy weather.

It is a week for citizens to rededicate themselves to the ideals of open government, to let the sun shine on their elected and appointed government officials.

The ideals of open government are older than our own republic. Remember Patrick Henry from you elementary school history lessons? He was the Virginia legislator who once declared, "give me liberty or give me death!" But Henry also knew the importance of open government when he cautioned "(t)he liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."

Yet, 200 years later, lessons from the Founding Fathers' era go unheeded.

Freedom of Information requests pile up, unacted upon by bureaucrats in Washington. One such request, according to a report for the Openthegovenment.org coalition, has been pending for more than 20 years. The same report found that for every $1 the government spent declassifying documents in 2006, it spent $185 maintaining secrets already on the books, a $51 increase from 2005.

To our friends in public office, from City Hall to the Statehouse to the White House, we have a small request this week:

Let the sunshine in.

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