I’m a journalist and I love public records.
That’s my bias.
But even non-journalists should love public records, too. Without public records, you couldn’t find out how much your house sold for in the past. You wouldn’t know if there is a robber or rapist in your neighborhood. And you wouldn’t know if your child’s teacher had some unsavory past. Without public records, you would have no way of knowing if that nice mayoral candidate took money from developers or not. You wouldn’t know about the huge skyscraper or strip mall being planned for that vacant lot across the street. Without public records … you get the idea. Public records are not just the tools journalists use to get you important information — in many ways, public records are the tools for keeping this democracy, well, democratic.
So why is it that every year the lawmakers up in Tallahassee try to chip away at the Sunshine Laws little by little, hoping we won’t notice?
This session, several legislators from both sides of the aisle are attempting to gain several exemptions to public record laws. A few have decent, if wrong, arguments surrounding them; other bills are completely ridiculous.