Editorial: Government without any ‘top secret’When the Red Wing Republican Eagle laid out the 2010 editorial agenda back in January, we stated that open government would be this newspaper's No. 1 priority this year.
By: R-E Editorial Board, The Republican Eagle
When the Red Wing Republican Eagle laid out the 2010 editorial agenda back in January, we stated that open government would be this newspaper's No. 1 priority this year.
We have editorialized in some fashion about openness — government "of, by and for the people" — four times already this year. Yet local governments across the county and region continue to shy away from being accountable and transparent in their actions.
Clearly, they aren’t getting the message.
That is why we invite you to join us at 7 p.m. Wednesday for "Top Secret: For Your Eyes Only, Citizen" at Red Wing Public Library. Our partners are the League of Women Voters and the Duff Endowment, founded by late R-E editor Phil Duff.
Laurie Beyer-Kropuenske with the state of Minnesota will explain how citizens can access information they need and have a right to know through the Data Practices Act. She'll also discuss how the Open Meeting Law prohibits secret meetings, assures the public's right to be informed and affords citizens the opportunity to present their views.
Her talk in Red Wing is timely for several reasons:
One, the Minnesota Department of Administration on April 23 issued a ruling that committee and subcommittee meetings “at which members discuss, decide, or receive information” relating to the official business of a governing body are open.
The R-E and Red Wing City Hall have locked horns for months on this very issue, and we believe officials will now have to open City Council committee meetings to any interested citizen.
Two, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned this week but not before passing a bill designed to make it easier for citizens to challenge a local government when they believe someone has withheld information or closed a meeting illegally.
Three, on Monday the Minnesota Department of Administration made a key ruling about access to data: School districts must share tentative employee contract agreements before approving them. Our parent company, Forum Communications Co., spearheaded that particular battle.
The title of Wednesday’s forum is a bit facetious, but we chose it hoping to engage that bit of investigative reporter in every citizen. There aren’t supposed to be many government secrets under Minnesota law, and we hope our fellow citizens will be inspired to help us ensure there are fewer than ever.