THE ISSUE: Sunshine Week.
OUR VIEW: This annual observance reminds us all of our right to know what our government is doing.
Welcome to Sunshine Week, a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.
The observance began as National Freedom of Information Day, originally held on March 16, the birth date of James Madison, the man generally regarded as the father of the U.S. Constitution and author of the First Amendment.
In simple terms, freedom of information is the right to know what your government is doing — how it spends your tax dollars, how it creates and implements policy, how it makes decisions that affect you.
Let’s say, for example, that you want a copy of the Kokomo city budget. You have the right to walk into City Hall and ask for it.
And the city has to give it to you, or it must explain why it can’t.
If you request a public record in person, the governmental entity has 24 hours to respond to your request. If you make the request by mail, it has seven days.
In considering your request, the government office can’t ask why you want the information. It can’t even ask who you are.
If all you want to do is examine the document, you have the right to do that right there in the office. If you want a copy, the office does have the option of charging you a reasonable fee.
Still, getting access to public information isn’t always easy. The battles sometimes rage for years.
The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety in 2008 and 2009 finally gave the Tulsa World information it had sought in 2001 related to the department’s treatment of minorities during traffic stops. Three years ago, the long battle came to an end when the department agreed to shell out $60,000 to cover about two-thirds of the newspaper’s legal fees.
And the fight never really ends.
Just weeks after a 2010 overhaul of Illinois freedom-of-information laws took effect, state lawmakers were already considering more than a half-dozen proposals aimed at making public records harder to get.
But the fight isn’t about liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats. Freedom of information advocates come from the right and the left and everywhere in between.
And they keep fighting the good fight year in and year out because they truly believe in a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
We salute their efforts.
THE ISSUE: Sunshine Week.
Letter to the Editor: April 17, 2014
On March 20 of this year I attended a public meeting of the Tipton County Economic Development Alliance. Members of this group include the three county commissioners, a member of the county council, two members from the city council, and the mayor.
Hicks: Measuring the unmeasurable
One aspect of economic research I think is especially powerful is the ability to measure or monetize the things that humans clearly value but for which a market price is not necessarily apparent. This is one of the aspects of economic analysis that gives it such dominance over other social sciences.
House of Burgess: Bush presents 'The Art of Leadership'
On April 5, “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” opened at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The display, which runs through June 3, boasts “portraits of more than two dozen world leaders” painted by Bush, according to the official literature.
Bohanon: ‘Economics is fun’ in Vegas or in Bible study
I am writing this on an airplane to Las Vegas. I’ll be attending the annual conference of the Association of Private Enterprise Education along with two of my colleagues and six of my students.
Letters to the Editor: April 16, 2014
At the time the agenda for the April 7 commissioner meeting came out, I was happy to see that the neglected commissioner board appointments were finally going to be addressed. These appointments had been in limbo for months on end.
Hayden: Want better teacher ratings? Ask the kids
The state may be back where it started, encumbered with a flawed teacher grading system, a year after implementing what were meant to be tough new standards.
That was the general consensus of the State Board of Education days after teacher evaluation data were released last week.
Letters to the Editor: April 15, 2014
In a recent “public eye” article written by KT columnist Scott Smith about the proposed industrial wind turbine project; mention was made of the “new deal” brokered by Howard County Commissioners with E.ON.
- BRIAN HOWEY: Mike Pence for president in 2016? Stay tuned Mike Pence for president? The swirl of 2016 national ticket talk surrounding Gov. Pence intensified over the past few weeks. I sat down with the governor in his office on Tuesday to find out what he's really thinking. A few hours prior, the Weekly S
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- April 14, 2014: Letters to the editor Watch for bicyclists on roadways, drivers When you ride a bike near a semi, there are at least four blind spots where the driver can't see you. We need to be careful when we ride near trucks. If we get hit by a semi, it's usually our fault. But we ne
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- Letter to the Editor: April 17, 2014