To the Contrary

McMaster calls for openness

Attorney General Henry McMaster struck a strong blow for open government in his opinion on how the state's environmental agency handled information about the Barnwell County nuclear waste landfill.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control violated the state's Freedom of Information Act when it did not expeditiously review documents the company operating the dump sought to keep secret, the opinion states. And some information DHEC did release was not presented in a way that could be understood by an ordinary person, making it virtually useless.

McMaster nails the problem with this assessment: "If the information ... had been more readily accessible to the public and in terms the public could understand, the integrity of the decision-making process concerning this facility over the years would have been greatly enhanced."...

Too many officials and their attorneys look to the list of exceptions as an escape hatch from their responsibility to account for their actions to the people they serve.

The exceptions become the rule, and the public and open government suffer.

AP-NY-11-21-07 0630EST

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