State has good openness record; battles continue |

State has good openness record; battles continue

A reader of the Appeal sent an e-mail this week asking why the Carson City real estate transactions weren’t in the paper recently.

His concern was that there is an intent on the part of the Carson City Assessor’s Office to withhold important public information.

That’s a serious charge, and one that gets at the very heart of one of this newspaper’s core missions – keeping people informed about what our government is doing, and helping them observe and participate in its operation.

In this case, a check found that the assessor’s small staff means that sometimes the records aren’t compiled on the schedule we’re used to. There is no intent to block public access to the records, and all of them will appear in the newspaper.

But the reader’s question is a good reminder that we are in the midst of Sunshine Week, a nationwide effort on the part of newspapers to highlight the importance of open government and freedom of information that many people take for granted.

It’s especially important now to offset a troubling national trend of cloaking the workings of government behind a veil of secrecy. The justification usually cited is national security, but in many cases, there is no justification at all.

Nevada, and especially the open-government advocates who live here, can be proud of the state’s record on allowing residents to have access to most records.

An Associated Press study found it was among only a few states where the majority of laws passed since 2001 have loosened access to information.

But the situation is different in many other states. The study found that legislators passed more than twice as many measures that restrict information as laws that open government books.

It’s a sure bet there will be attempts to pass more such measures, and that includes Nevada. It’s no time to take open government for granted.