To the Contrary

Uphold the FOI law

The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that one plus one equals two. Well, not literally, but the question in dispute (whether school boards -- and, by extension, local governments, colleges and state agencies -- have to tell the public whom they're considering for jobs) was nearly that straightforward.

And yet, given the response it has generated from school officials and the way local officials across the state have thumbed their nose at the law for so long, this obviously was a much-needed ruling.

At issue was a pretty simple state law that requires public bodies to release the names of "not fewer than the final three applicants under consideration for a position." ...

We certainly understand officials' concerns that the best candidates might be scared off if their current bosses could find out they applied. We sympathize. But, like a host of other matters, from burdensome procurement rules to the laws that make public officials cast their votes in public, this is just one of those areas where government has to go the extra mile because it is government and is operating on a grant of public trust.

Even if it weren't the law, government officials should operate in the sunshine, because doing otherwise undermines the already-shaky public confidence in government. But since it is the law, the very least we can expect is for officials to abide by it, and quit playing word games and feigning ignorance in an attempt to skirt it.