It is Sunshine Week here in Ohio. And having said that, let me immediately clear up some misconceptions. This does not mean that we celebrate the fact that Ohio only gets one week of sunny weather. It may seem that way in the winter, but that is not the case.
It is not a throwback tribute to this classic from the Fifth Dimension:
Click here to view video.
Although that would be groovy.
No, Sunshine Week celebrates the notion that our government and its subdivisions are supposedly transparent and open. Public records belong to the people, and are supposed to be produced upon request with no hassles or obstruction. It seems so obvious to me. But not to everybody. Here’s an article from the Ohio University Post newspaper about an audit conducted throughout the state by a group of student journalists. The student journalists asked for records from Ohio’s public universities. Records maintained by public universities are subject to Ohio’s public records act.
But that basic notion seems lost on any number of administrators at the universities. At a distressingly high number of universities, the student journalists were required to identify themselves when requesting records. That is a blatant violation of the law. I mean, like awarding a batter first base on three balls rather than four. It’s that bad. At many other universities, requests were shuffled off to the legal department for no good reason. Unless hassling the public qualifies as a good reason. Attorney General Mike DeWine and Auditor David Yost – who like to hold themselves as staunch open government advocates – both boldly declined comment on the story. So there’s that.
The point really is simple. Obey the law. Don’t yank people around. Let the sun shine in. All year long!