Editorial: Open government means just that

One of the big misunderstandings about Missouriís Sunshine Law is that somehow this testimony to transparency is a tool reserved solely to advance the interests of the media. Journalists do turn to the law regularly to uncover documents and to discover what goes on behind closed doors. But you can bet lawmakers were thinking more broadly about the interests of the public when this landmark measure was introduced in the General Assembly as Senate Bill 1 in 1973. This, after all, was the year of the Watergate hearings.

This fact ó that the law exists to serve the public ó is the best reason we know to expect more of our government officials who are subject to its requirements. State Auditor Tom Schweich reported this week that audits of state and local governments over two decades have turned up numerous violations of the Sunshine Law. In the same breath, he cuts officials some slack ó stating ìthe vast majorityî of violations appear to result from confusion or misunderstandings of the law.

The frustration for interested citizens is this is not a problem of their making, but it directly impacts them when they are rebuffed in attempts to keep meetings open and records available for public scrutiny. Continue>>>