Thursday meeting to focus on government transparency

By Observer editorial May 12, 2010 02:02 pm
How effective is Oregon’s Public Meetings and Records Law? Do governments understand it? Abide by it? Does the public have a clue about what it is and what it is for?

Oregon’s attorney general is seeking public opinion about transparency in government in Oregon, specifically how well the Public Meetings and Records Law works.

Attorney General John Kroger is in the process of holding meetings around the state on transparency in government. He will convene such a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at St. Anthony Hospital’s Blues Room in Pendleton. The public and local government officials are especially encouraged to show up and present

Anyone who has sought public records from a public body and experienced problems should plan to attend. The AG is not only seeking input on government’s response time to requests, but on fees charged. He also would like input on the multitude of exemptions to public access that have been granted over the years, as well as accessibility to public meetings.

The meeting gives people in Eastern Oregon a chance to provide input on a key component to our governmental system — transparency and accessibility.

Historically, Oregon has been recognized as a leader in ensuring that government is open and accessible to the public it serves. Oregon’s Public Records and Meetings Law has been in place since 1973. But since that time, it’s been chipped away at with exceptions to various components, and the system has not been reviewed in its entirety.

Until now, that is. Kroger’s decision to revisit how the state is doing on ensuring transparency is good for the state and the public. Every significant law should be revisited from time to time.

If you have any thoughts, concerns or ideas about government transparency in Oregon, consider taking part in Thursday’s meeting in Pendleton.