Public officials like to talk about open government. It’s much harder to act accordingly, which makes this Sunshine Week (March 16-22) an opportunity to do more than raise awareness.
The issue hit home with last week’s news that the Wichita City Council’s airport-naming committee reported its own violation of the open-meetings law to Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett. City officials needn’t wait for his office’s decision to take steps to avoid more such violations by either standing or short-term city boards. Open meetings promote public trust in decision making.
Several worthy proposals remain in play at the Legislature:
Kansans should call on lawmakers to finalize these bills.
At the federal level, the U.S. Senate should join the House – and the 21st century – by requiring electronic filing of campaign-finance reports by its candidates. As it is, taxpayers have to cover the $400,000 annual cost of putting paper filings online. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., supports updating the requirement but still files the old-fashioned way, as does Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. Change is overdue.
Meanwhile, President Obama is falling far short of his promise to have the most transparent administration in history, with an Associated Press analysis finding the White House became more secretive in 2013.
To be accountable to the public it serves, a government must be open and accessible. Elected officials should let the sun shine on their work.