Revisit Law That Denies the Public Access

The Indianapolis Star; Letter to the Editor — Indiana Coalition for Open Government applauds The Star’s May 17 editorial “Public’s right to know denied.” Gov. Frank O’Bannon lacked the conviction to veto Senate Enrolled Act 169, and the citizens of Indiana have lost the right to be informed about disciplinary problems involving those we fund to teach children, drive public vehicles and police laws.

 

Revisit Law that Denies the Public’s Access

The Indianapolis Star
Letter to the Editor

(May 11, 2003) Indiana Coalition for Open Government applauds The Star’s May 17 editorial “Public’s right to know denied.” Gov. Frank O’Bannon lacked the conviction to veto Senate Enrolled Act 169, and the citizens of Indiana have lost the right to be informed about disciplinary problems involving those we fund to teach children, drive public vehicles and police laws.

The editorial stated, “In fact, any disciplinary action taken against a public employee that falls short of termination, suspension or demotion now can be hidden from taxpayers.” This new law should alarm every parent and concerned citizen.

For too long, Indiana’s Public Records Act and Open Door Law have been considered the bread and butter of the news media because of a vested profit motive while these laws are assumed to be of marginal concern to the average citizen. Horsefeathers!

ICOG is a broad-based citizen-oriented organization founded in support of three main principles: the protection of the rights of citizens and organizations to obtain public records and gain access to public meetings; the education of the public and elected officials about how to use the existing laws to gain access to public records and public meetings; and the education of citizens about proposed changes in laws and regulations that would affect public access.

It is reprehensible that our state legislature passed a bill that prevents the public’s right to access important information and that O’Bannon signed it.

ICOG urges elected officials to protect and strengthen Indiana’s access laws, not chip away at them. Next year, the state legislature should rethink this very bad law and repeal it.

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