Why ask ‘why’ on city info?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Freedom of Information – it’s meant to help keep taxpayer-funded operations honest, taxpayer-funded operations such as municipal, county, state and federal governments.

The founders of our country recognized that the success of the great democratic experiment would depend on the people keeping leaders accountable. By allowing the people access to the government, our founding fathers ensured that accountability.

Freedom of Information allows a 70-year-old grandmother who’s simply curious about the budget of her county government to research and determine how must is spent by the county on services for seniors like herself.

Freedom of Information allows us, the newspaper, to bring our readers data such as crime reports from the sheriff’s department and municipal police departments and detailed minutes from

city council meetings.

Recent actions by the city of Columbiana have brought Freedom of Information to the forefront. Now, Columbiana joins two others in our county in requiring those who request information to fill out forms before they are granted access. Filling out a request form is certainly not problematic. What concerns us, however, is one of the questions asked on the form. The person making the request is asked for a reason.

To ask this question is simply intimidation and is unacceptable. Politicians these days often look around and wonder why they are not trusted by those they serve. It is actions such as these that make people believe our leaders are “up to something,” fostering a distrust that continues to grow everyday.

Officials would serve themselves well to eliminate questions such as this one on the request form, and we urge them to do so.