When in doubt, give info out
Letters to the Editor
I write in response to “FOI fee funk,” the Nov. 20 article regarding the legal fees spent by the town of Vernon on Freedom of Information requests.
I do not live in Vernon and I do not know the nature of Vernon politics. I am, however, an advocate for the timely release of public information. I have worked in municipal government for more than 22 years. I served as public information officer for a local police agency for 13 years.
Time and time again I read about and witness public employees who feel that the information they are charged with maintaining is their own information. As a result, employees are insulted and feel as though they are being unjustly burdened when a citizen requests copies of certain records.
When will public officials and public employees learn that the information in their offices is public? That means it is available for inspection and review by anyone.
Towns that feel a local attorney must vet every request are dipping into public coffers unnecessarily. There are very few bona-fide exceptions to the public disclosure laws.
Until the legislature gives the Freedom of Information Commission the authority to take aggressive action against government entities that fail to comply with FOI requests, this continued disregard for the laws regarding the distribution of public information by government employees and officials will continue. The mantra of government employees should be, “When in doubt, give it out.”