Thursday, February 19, 2009

Closing the "Open Book" on Government Records

Posted By on February 19, 2009, 10:59 AM

Rep. Aagard, R-Kaysville has gotten his%uFFFDH.B.122, a%uFFFDbill meant%uFFFDto close off more%uFFFDpublic records from them thar'%uFFFDpesky reporters and conscientious citizens,%uFFFDthrough the house yesterday by a 43-27 vote. The bill would make it much more difficult for documents to be made public, that are%uFFFDcreated in anticipation of pending litigation. A measure Aagard described as protecting attorney-client privilege. The existing standard has been to allow this concern to be weighed equally with the public's right to know. If Aagard's bill passes, the law would favor the government's right to secrecy over the public's right to know.

Interestingly enough, as the Trib's%uFFFDCathy Mckitrick%uFFFDreported at the beginning of this month, Aagard was asked to push this bill on behalf of the Attorney General's office. Apparently the AG's office was still smarting from recent rulings that forced their office to release documents they considered private information.

The AG's office huh? That's funny, because I can't help%uFFFDbut recall%uFFFDShurtleff sending out a press release last year about his Open Book on government meetings, a manual aimed at facillitating transparency and engagement in government. To quote Mark from the preface:

"The Open Book is my commitment to the idea that open government is better government."

Perhaps it is, and to be fair, perhaps Shurtleff's Open Book is still a work in progress. It sounds like his ghost writer Rep. Aagard is still working on a new edition, coming soon to a government records office near you. (Eric S. Peterson)%uFFFD

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