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EDITORIAL Keeping the public in public records

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Posted: Friday, March 8, 2013 9:00 am

Have you ever wanted to learn a criminal suspect's arrest information, hear the tape of a 911 call or see a copy of the city's budget?

Taxpayers like you have a right to public information because tax dollars fund local government.

And in the busyness of work, school, family and career, many people don't bother to care about why public records access matters for the general public and media. Especially when times are good and worries are few. Some even say we should trust our leaders to do what's right.

It's why we think it's important to tell you about Sunshine Week, a national initiative led by the American Society of News Editors.

Sunshine Week began in 2005 to inform the public about the benefits of open government and freedom of information. The event kicks off Sunday.

We encourage you to learn more about the public information that you are entitled to.

More resources can be found at www.foia.gov, www.nfoic.org/foi-center and sunshineweek.rcfp.org/freedom-of-information-resources/.

Public records aid the Columbia Basin Herald with reporting the salaries of public employees and elected officials, political contributions to candidates and obtaining regular arrest information from law enforcement agencies.

Having the information is critical in keeping the government accountable and informing the public about government decision making.

We think former president Harry Truman sums it up well.

"Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix." Truman once said.

- Editorial Board

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1 comment:

  • Julia Dannon posted at 9:25 pm on Sun, Mar 10, 2013.

    Julia Dannon Posts: 13

    For most of us, sifting through public records and being nosy is a luxury we the working class cannot afford. The rest of you that have nothing else to do- enjoy!