A website was created this week to help local news organizations with access to public information. To date, even while sponsored by corporate news organizations, I've paid for all of my information requests out of my own pocket. I do this so I can publish information the public needs without filtering it. In many ways. we have as much to fear today by some of the behavior of our press as we do the government itself.
Free flow of information helps eliminate some of these issues - corruption in the government and corruption in the press.
Sunshine law violations happen - some aren't malicious - like an administrator being sick and failing to post a notice early enough (unintentional violations should be quickly corrected and forgiven). In some cases, more sinister motives exist. In Branson particularly, a great deal of pseudo-government entities exist with a minimalist approach to exposure - at a great expense to the public.
“Government decision making
in the United States should be as
transparent as possible. Ours is a
democratic system – of, by and for
the people – and we ought to know
what’s going on. We’re a stronger
society because information – good
and bad – flows freely.”
Judy Woodruff, PBS NewsHour
When I ask for certain information that falls under the auspices of the sunshine law) and ask for it in a format that is both available and less taxing on human and environmentally resources than standard formats it would be of great benefit to myself, the community and legal counsel if the request was complied with.
“Open government laws are
absolutely essential to getting the
information officials might prefer
to see locked away. When you’re
seeking information, you know
that with these laws you’re on the
side of right. Sunshine Week is
an opportunity for journalists, the
public and government officials to
reinforce the importance of these
laws and their foundations.”
Ben Bradlee, The Washington Post
Basically, it's the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is to ask for help (if you don't know how to fulfill the request). The hard way is a public whipping by men who wear funny robes in Cole County. What's it gonna be?
Refrences: Missouri Court Decisions
Missouri Press Association 2004 - Alderman Clash
****Public Meeting Tonight - Branson City Council 7PM City Hall