Mat-Su Frontiersman Opinion: Alaska Governor Walker fails at government transparency

Among Gov. Bill Walker’s many failures – women’s rights, wildlife conservation, public safety, climate change, salmon protection, environment – a fundamental one is his failure to conduct state business openly and transparently.

Alaska statute underscores the need for openness in government, as follows: “State government units exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business; actions of those units should be taken openly and deliberations be conducted openly; the people of the state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which 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’s right to remain informed shall be protected so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

The Alaska Supreme Court has held that public access to government documents is a “fundamental right;” that the Alaska Public Records Act creates a presumption in favor of disclosure, not concealment, of state documents; and that exemptions must be construed narrowly.

However, the Walker administration has habitually violated this noble intent in using Public Records Act disclosure exemptions to conceal its decision-making from the Alaska public. This is a dangerous, slippery slope toward authoritarianism, and should concern all Alaskans. (Read more...)