Future court rulings should require state chambers of commerce and other groups receiving tax dollars to adhere to open-records

Hilton Head Island businessman Skip Hoagland scored big last month when a circuit court judge ruled that the Town of Hilton Head Island could not charge for the time it will take town staff to comply with a subpoena Hoagland has filed, seeking documents. The ruling means Hoagland will only have to pay the cost of copying roughly 4,800 pages of town documents he has requested, including accounting details, spending records and contract bids.

It's good for all parties involved and the community at large to finally have a decision on the front. For too long, it has been unclear what activities local governments could charge for and how much they could charge when the public and media request information.

Now, a ruling is needed on the bigger issue that Hoagland has raised — whether chambers of commerce, including the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce — are public bodies and therefore required to follow the state's Freedom of Information Act. The open-records law ensures that the public and the press get a look into the workings of their government. Continue>>>