Press editorial: Sunshine SundayThe end of Sunshine Week is today, which is a national program to promote the importance of open government and to defend the public’s right to know.
The end of Sunshine Week is today, which is a national program to promote the importance of open government and to defend the public’s right to know.
Sunshine Week is non-partisan and members are both conservative and liberal minded. Party affiliation doesn’t matter and there have been champions of open government from both sides of the political isle.
The Florida Society of Newspaper Editors launched Sunshine Sunday in 2002 in response to efforts after 9/11 by some Florida legislators to create scores of new exemptions to the state’s public records law but it could as easily started in just about any state.
The authors of the North Dakota Constitution appreciated the importance of a transparent state government when writing sections 5 and 6 of Article 11 General Provisions. Section 5 states unless otherwise provided by law, all meetings of public or governmental bodies, boards, bureaus, commissions, or agencies of the state or any political subdivision of the state, or organization or agencies supported in whole or in part by public funds, or expending public funds shall be open to the public. Section 6 provides the same guidelines to all documents that they be open and accessible for inspection during reasonable office hours.
How could anything that is so clearly written be violated by those of government daily? Our government works best when it is open to public scrutiny, despite the claims of some that conducting open meetings is cumbersome. History has taught us nothing, but too often when government officials balk at upholding their duty to the constitution to conduct truly open meetings and provide easy access to public documents their have been abuses of power.
Newspapers for as long as the Constitution has existed have struggled to get access to information that by law it guarantees. While newspapers are in the business of reporting the workings of our government, and the role of governmental watchdog is one we at The Press take very seriously. It is important to note the Constitution guarantees access to meetings and documents to everyone in the state.
Contrary to what some governmental gatekeepers would like you to believe, you don’t have to identify or qualify yourself to attend government meetings or review public documents. Denying any individual that access is against the law and extremely dangerous.
— The Dickinson Press Editorial Board members meet weekly to
discuss issues of importance to the community.