Sunday, January 25, 2009

Back to Sunshine?

Will the new president's statements regarding public records, transparency and the disinfectant qualities of sunshine ripple into state and local government?

Freedom of Information Act memorandum from President Obama
A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.
The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.... (read more)
On First Day, Obama Quickly Sets a New Tone -

Obama Reverses Bush Policy, Opens Access to Some Records, WSJ, Jan. 21.

(Comparison: Government Openness at Issue As Bush Holds On to Records, NYTimes, Jan. 3, 2003)

Closer to home, the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, calls itself "one of the few places the average citizen in Virginia can turn for a solid answer to a question about access to public records and meetings." Check out its newsletter, its blog, and other information on its site, such as this article on The shady (as in no sunshine) General Assembly.

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