Some of us are old enough to remember when government work was largely done in the shadows. Committee meetings, communications between elected officials, documents — you just couldn’t get them, even though it was the public’s business being done.
With the signing of the Freedom of Information Act in 1966, President Johnson ushered in a new era of transparency in government. While not perfect, the act went a long way toward bringing government out of the shadows and into the sunshine.
Of course, some still want to work in the shadows. It has been common for some time for elected officials at all levels to use private email accounts for public business, thus bypassing the FOIA and the ability for the records to be easily subpoenaed if needed. It’s a shady practice, and one that goes against the spirit of transparency and openness, not to mention public service.
Here in Louisville, we discovered that certain officials were using personal accounts for public business, either inadvertently or intentionally. But, rather than let this problem linger, or turn into a larger problem, Hizzoner the Mayor did the right thing, and did it in the typical “Mayor Fischer way” — quietly, no drama, just a simple declarative statement:
“We are creating every one of you an official email account. And every one of you will use them.”
The C-J reported on the move in a brief story this morning. The decision also addresses doing public business by text, and keeps the messages on city email servers where they can be searched and archived more easily.
It is always better when governing is done in the open. And it is refreshing when an elected official reinforces that culture through policy and example.