By Leesa Bainbridge
An Open Government Summit, held Nov. 16 at the Orlando Sentinel, took aim at state and local officials who are making it difficult, if not impossible, to get access to many public records.
The League of Women Voters was well-represented at the forum, attended by more than 60 people, and participated in discussions on how to reform Florida’s open government laws and rein in abuse.
Each of the event’s speakers agreed the situation is getting worse, pointing to 1,100 exemptions to public-record laws, including 34 passed in the last two legislative sessions alone. One particularly galling exemption, mentioned several times, protects broadly defined “trade secrets,” which allows the state to keep many contracts private.
“The government is shutting us out,” said journalist and author Carl Hiaasen, pointing out as others did that it doesn’t just hurt the media but all citizens. [Read More]