Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

March 19, 2013

Celebrating right to know

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.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: Let's put lethal injection to sleep

    It was only a matter of time before this happened again; and I’m sad to say I’m not surprised at all.
    On July 22, the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the killing of Arizona death row inmate James R. Wood III, who had filed suit requesting a delay until the state revealed the details of the drugs that would be used to end his life.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • ANDREA NEAL: Fleeting canal era had lasting impact on state Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. In 1825, the Erie Canal was completed to great fanfare. Cannon fire, parades, balls and speeches celebrated the speed and ski

    July 30, 2014

  • Schools need kids' parents For school-age children in southern Miami County — and their parents — this is a seminal week. Classes start at Maconaquah schools on Friday.School starts for the rest of the Kokomo area next week.Before your children head back to school, ensure they

    July 29, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Pence, Bayh crowd field with questions In the 2016 political landscape, a pair of the state's political big dogs -- Republican Gov. Mike Pence and former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh -- have potential candidates holding their breath and waiting on them. Until Pence says otherwise, he's

    July 29, 2014

  • LETTERS: No excuse letting trimmings rot at curb No excuse for letting trimmings rot at curbWe live in a recently annexed, east-side subdivision — a nice, clean, well-kept subdivision where almost all homeowners take pride in and maintain their homes and lawns.Before the annexation, we paid for our

    July 29, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: All things Hillary are not news, just distractions This column has nothing to do with who should or will win the presidential election in 2016. It has nothing to do with partisan politics of any flavor. This column does, however, assess how television is oversaturating the "news" agenda with countles

    July 29, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: World is rising up to meet Putin's thuggery Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my papers and note pads

    July 28, 2014

  • LETTERS: Parents taking fun out of youth sports Parents taking fun out of youth sports I enjoyed reading the article, "Nation's youth sports leagues on troubling decline," by Bill Stanczykiewicz, CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, and the last paragraph, a quote by Dr. Bill Dexter, president of t

    July 28, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: A trip to end all trips My wife is planning a very exciting vacation to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. This was a big surprise to me. Not the vacation part, but the 35 years. I thought it was 34. Right now she is on the back porch, the patio table stacked high with

    July 28, 2014

  • WEEKLY WRAP: Legal marriages should be honored Legal marriages should be honoredAn eager and probably nervous couple stands before a minister or a judge or a county clerk and exchanges vows, accepting the legal, moral and ethical obligations of a marriage.The couple has properly obtained a marria

    July 28, 2014

Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll