Opinion: State often keeps public in dark

From Boston Herald: Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis praised the sunlight of public scrutiny as “the best of disinfectants.” The dark and dusty corners of Massachusetts government need far more sunshine.

The commonwealth enacted its public records law in 1966, the same year Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act. While the world looks very different than it did in the age of LBJ and Gov. John Volpe, our public records law becomes more antiquated each year, leaving far too many avenues for officials to avoid disclosure.

Pending legislation filed by state Rep. Peter Kocot (D-Northampton) could begin to change that.

Massachusetts performs dismally when it comes to government openness. In 2012, the Center for Public Integrity gave the commonwealth a failing grade for public access to information. The center found burdensome fees, unreasonable wait times and unresponsive agencies to be routine.

MuckRock, a Boston-based website that has submitted more than 2,000 requests in Massachusetts since 2009, finds similar obstacles. On the whole, compliance is more the exception than the rule.

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