Move Quickly to Ensure Ongoing Public Access

The Indianapolis Star; Letter to the Editor — Gov. Frank O’Bannon did the right thing five years ago when he created the position of public access counselor in state government, and legislators did, too, when they made the position permanent.With the recent resignation of Anne Mullin O’Connor as access counselor, it’s incumbent upon the governor and the legislature to again do right by the only office in state government — one of the few in the country — that helps citizens get access to government records and meetings.

 

Move Quickly to Ensure Ongoing Public Access

The Indianapolis Star
Letter to the Editor

(July 15, 2003) Gov. Frank O’Bannon did the right thing five years ago when he created the position of public access counselor in state government, and legislators did, too, when they made the position permanent.

With the recent resignation of Anne Mullin O’Connor as access counselor, it’s incumbent upon the governor and the legislature to again do right by the only office in state government — one of the few in the country — that helps citizens get access to government records and meetings.

We call on the governor to find someone with at least the same efficiency, responsiveness and dedication as O’Connor displayed, and do so quickly. We also call on the governor and legislature to at least maintain the two-person staff in the office, if not expand it.

It’s important to note that the majority of calls to the public access counselor are not from the media but from citizens (45 percent) trying to get access to the workings of government, and from public officials (43 percent) asking for advice.

In this era of cynicism toward government, low voter turnout and a general lack of participation, the Public Access Counselor Office provides an excellent resource for helping citizens become active participants in their democracy.

Wendy Brant
(Past) President,
Indiana Coalition for Open Government

Joseph Boyce
President
Indianapolis Professional Chapter
Society of Professional Journalists