Monday, March 16, 2009

Bobcast: Sunshine in Oxford

Latest Bobcast is up. Listen here or read below.

It's time for another tale for Sunshine Week, the seven days set aside by the American Society of Newspaper Editors to call attention to the public’s right to know about government.

Today we look in on Oxford.

In late January, The Star asked the city of Oxford for recent data on road-paving – money spent, roads paved and so on.

We know by state law and by common sense that there’s no doubt that this sort of information should be public. Public money spent on public roadway equals public document.

The good news is that Oxford compiled. The bad news it took more than a week for the city to hand over the data. City officials deftly passed the buck until they got an OK from Leon Smith, Oxford’s long-time mayor.

Here’s the point, and it's bigger than one city or one city’s would-be monarch.

Freedom of information is a cornerstone to a healthy and vital democracy. A public record is open to the public, not because of the whim of one elected official. It’s public because the law and good government practices say so.