Sunday, February 15, 2015

DMN Announces a New Tool to Shine the Light on Government

The DMN watchdog, Dave Lieber, is helping to  shine the light on government action. Back in December, in one of his columns, he asked for help from the public to highlight problems with government: Helping to shine the light of day on government practices that are OK in the dark, but may be somewhat shameful when brought to light. I applaud that effort.

While some people will back our city leaders and say how great and wonderful they are no matter what they have done, or try justifying their actions without reason, it costs all of us one way or another.

In my view, there should be a reasonable tension between the public and local government. Like Reagan once said, trust but verify.

Too many times people are vilified for simply not toting the line. Proof of this is easy to find. Every other year the Richardson Coalition demeans and humiliates those who choose to run for city council who they do not endorse.

The Dallas Morning News is taking a stand to make it easier for citizens to make Freedom of Information Requests. The vast majority of citizens have never made such a request. Maybe they feel intimidated by the local government leaders or maybe they have no idea they have a right to open government.

The lack of oversight by the citizens can allow the leaders in local government to do things they otherwise would not do. It is the responsibility of citizen to watch, pay attention and keep them in line. The local government should have a healthy fear of the citizens. The citizens should not be in any way fearful of their local government. It is a healthy relationship for the public when there is tension between local leaders and the citizens.

If you are interested in making a Freedom of Information Request to a local government, here is a tool that allows you to do so.