Archive for Thursday, March 25, 2004

Open records should be just that — open

March 25, 2004

Action taken last week by a Kansas Senate committee to weaken the Kansas Open Records Act is, simply, unbelievable.

The open records act currently requires records of government employees' compensation to be available to the public. As recently as a month ago, a bill approved by the Kansas House upheld that notion and even went so far as to confirm that included an employee's entire compensation package.

But, last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave its approval to change the Open Records Act to allow government agencies to close the records on any employee compensation that comes from private sources.

Why should that matter? That's easy. How can we know what companies or other interests are feathering the nests of public employees with money that's not reported? The ramifications of allowing that are obvious.

Mike Merriam, a Topeka attorney who represents the Kansas Press Association and various media outlets said it best -- the amendment provides "a roadmap to corruption." That's enough said.

Besides the obvious reasons not to weaken the open records act, the other question is why is this being considered now. Open records have been the law for years. Why should we change it now?

Do we have something to hide?

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