Former Oregon Attorney General John Kroger’s drive to open and keep open public records should not be squelched.
Since the Watergate era in the mid-1970s, Oregon has a good track record of maintaining open records for public bodies and public institutions. Open records are vital to a strong democracy, they allow the public to see how their local and state governments are operating.
There are some who want to see a restriction on records for personal reasons—lottery winners, PERS beneficiaries, concealed gun licensees. There is a level of privacy that must be observed. It is the activities and expenditures of government bodies that should always be open for examination.
The legislature should not be in any rush this season to limit access to public records. We don’t want to see one of our proud traditions be chipped away.
Government is of, by, and for the people. Those in the public sector are doing the people’s business, and aside from contracts and negotiations, there is no reason to keep secret the goings-on of a state agency, a legislative committee or a municipal body.
John Kroger pushed for more open public records and we’d like to see his successor, Attorney General Ellen Rosenbloom, continue the push.
We’d also like the legislature to remember the pubilc has a right to know what’s being done in their name.