This is Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote open government and freedom of information. Spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors it is designed to strengthen the rights of the public to know what government is doing, something that badly needs enhancement in Cecil County.
The organizers host a number of activities to promote awareness, including one recognition program called local heroes, individuals who played a significant role in fighting for open government. While we didn’t nominate anyone for the award, we might just do that when the campaign rolls around in 2012. While we watch to see how many additional champions of sunshine in government emerge, Commissioner Broomell is off to a good start. We recognized her effort in an earlier commentary piece.
Meanwhile we’ll keep an eye on the local government boards and the community to see if other candidates emerge, but as we watch we’ll recognize an area newspaper for its effort in fighting for open government. That publication is the Kent County News, a strong advocate for sunshine in government through its news and editorial pages and its referrals to the Maryland Open Meeting Board.
Read the editorial columns and political coverage of the Kent County News. That small weekly, anytime the commissioners go behind closed doors to discuss public business, makes it a news story so at least readers know that officials are shutting the public out and subscribers have some idea of what the politicians are doing
Closed Door Meetings Don’t Go Unnoticed for This Newspaper
Regularly, you’ll see editorials taking the politicians to task for shutting the public out of the meetings or making some other decisions related to restricting freedom of information. During the course of a year the political reporter, Craig O’Donnell and his editor file Freedom of Information Act Requests and take complaints to the state. By-the-way, they’re often successful with those. That sort of thing creates an important balance, and contributes to good government. You can bet politicians in Kent County think twice before they try to shut out the public down there for they know their decision will be challenged.
When did that last happen with legacy or new media in Cecil County, decades ago perhaps? We checked the online database for years and couldn’t find a case where a local newspaper was concerned with such a matter. By-the-way, being a watchdog for the public adds value for shareholders if you’re running a legacy media company.
In the tradition of the daily newspapers thumbs-up and thumbs-down editorials, we’re awarding a thumbs-up to the Kent County News for being a strong advocate for sunshine on government and for serving their readers by watching the politicians for the public.