The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 11, 2013

Let public see what's going on


DANVILLE — Today marks the beginning of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to push for more openness in government at all levels.

In a democracy, the more information the people know, the better they can directed their elected representatives.

That’s the key ingredient — people electing their representatives — that many officeholders forget — or ignore — once the ballot boxes have been put away.

Deals done in the dark for “the good of the public” often benefit those involved much more than the public whose trust is placed in their representatives. This is, after all, Illinois, where we once had two former governors in prison at the same time for looking after their own interests instead of the public good.

Illinois and Indiana both have laws that compel elected officials to conduct most of their business in the bright light of public meetings, open to all. The laws also require records involved in that business to be made available to anyone interested in looking at them for any reason.

These laws do not just benefit journalists, although we do make use of them in our role as conveyors of information to our readers. These laws cover every citizen, as they should,

The Illinois Press Association, of which the Commercial-News is a member, maintains a website — http://Public — that includes legal notices from all levels of government. It allows instant access to information.

During his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln touched on the vital role of the public in government. He called it the “last great task,” that “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish.”

Transparency in government serves as the key ingredient in making Lincoln’s ideal become a reality.