Let the sun shine in government

Published 12:46 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Open government is good government. That simple but significant phrase is something we, here in Shelby County, may sometimes take for granted.

The approach taken by those entrusted with high office in our communities is overwhelmingly honest and open. We should be thankful for that.

This week, communities and the newspapers that serve them are observing Sunshine Week, an annual time of reflection on the openness, or lack thereof, in national, state and local government. While no party hats have been handed out in our newsroom this week, the general sentiment has been that we feel fortunate to live and work in communities where the vast majority of governmental dealings are open and forthright.

But there is still work to be done to further efforts to let the sun shine throughout local government in Shelby County.

It’s unacceptable for any citizen to have a problem, no matter how small, seeing his or her government. From copy charges for public records to progressive meetings held to avoid a quorum, any such steps taken by a governmental body, regardless of the innocence of the intent, make for weaker government.

It is uncomfortable to talk about mistakes or problems. Such is true in our own families, our churches and it is most certainly true in elected office. But in all such cases, putting the issue out in the open is the first, and perhaps most effective, step toward resolution. We cannot fix that which we ignore.

When it comes to information about our government and its dealings, there can never be too much information. Let us celebrate the sun that does shine in government throughout our community, but let us resolve that even the slightest shadow of secrecy in government is intolerable.