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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sunshine Committee Update: Cost To Gov't Not a Criterion

The Olympian reports that the Sunshine Committee met on Tuesday and decided the criteria it will use to judge exemptions. Some additional details on the committee meeting are provided on the Liberty Live blog by Jonathan Bechtle of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation.

Significantly--and we mean really significantly--the full Committee rejected a proposal to use the cost to government as a criterion. Providing public records is something government must do, and the cost of providing public records is a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of what government spends. And without public records, it's virtually impossible for the public to know how its money is being spent.

Can you imagine if mutual fund managers told investors that it would cost several hundred thousand dollars (out of billions and billions in spending) to tell investors how their money was being spent and that therefore the cost of informing investors was cost-prohibitive? That would be forgetting whose money is at stake and who works for whom. And when it comes to government, it's the people's money--not the government's. The government works for the people and the people have put some measures in place to remain informed about what their servants are doing. Perhaps this is a good time to remind some in government of what the Public Records Act says:

"The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created."