It’s Mid- March and with the worst of winter behind us this week is, fittingly, Sunshine Week.
And no, it has nothing to do with winter.
Sunshine Week is observed nationwide every year between mid March to foster dialogue on greater transparency in government, freedom of information and open government at all levels.
The week is observed during the week of James Madison’s birthday, the founding father and author of the First Amendment.
In Kansas, public entities such as local and state governments and agencies are legally bound to operate under a set of laws known as Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) and Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA). These laws ensure that the business of the people is conducted out in the open, and that the people are given ample opportunity not only to participate in government but also to gain access to information about their affairs.
It is important that public officials follow the laws.
In fact it is illegal not to.
When public officials disregard open government laws they inevitably give the citizens cause to be suspicious. Many times, violations of KORA and KOMA occur because of lack of knowledge. However, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
Public officials should be trained on the laws, and citizens expect them to follow them, just as residents are.
We applaud the city of Edgerton which last week held a training session on KORA and KOMA for their elected officials and senior staff.
During the training, the officials gained useful knowledge on how to conduct public business with greater transparency and the pitfalls to avoid while in the service of their citizens.
We applaud Mayor Don Roberts and his team for taking this issue seriously and are sure other leaders in the area will follow suit.