Enjoy Sunshine Week? Seriously.

Forget about the drenching we received this week – it’s been nothing but sunshine. sun

Saturday marks the official end of “Sunshine Week” – but it’s something all of us should think about.

What is it? A time when all the major press and watchdog organizations push for open government, open records and transparency.

But the media and a few small policy groups can’t do it alone – viewers and readers have to demand accountability from government officials and support efforts to promote open records and public proceedings.

Western Washington is in desperate need of this kind of sunshine. There are too many examples of what you might call “un-sunshine” or “anti-sunshine” around here – not the least of which is the Seattle Police Department’s ongoing effort to conceal records. Kudos to KOMO for taking them on. Pretty shocking when you consider the hip vibe city administrators want us to buy into. But again, that is but one example.

The Washington Sunshine Committee (Public Records Exemption Accountability Committee – technically) is a mess with a conflicted leadership, a legislature that works overtime to ignore or hamstring it… and is amazingly sympathetic to those who petition to add to the massive pile of exemptions that are slowly undermining the intent of the original legislature/voter-approved disclosure and open meeting laws.

Right now, the advocates of secrecy are basing a lot of their arguments against the ongoing implementation and improvement of the law on the abuses of a small number of gadflies (i.e. nut jobs – in some cases) who torment record keepers with unreasonable requests. A solution that doesn’t involve gutting the law is certainly possible. It’s a red herring argument made by lawmakers, bureaucrats and insiders who would just assume the entirety of government retire into executive session and merely hand-down its edicts and patronage without review or question.

If you don’t understand why we’re a billion dollars in the hole, why the same people seem to keep getting certain appointments or contracts, or how it is so many problem children keep bubbling-up in small government, law enforcement or education – you need to support open records, open meetings and the tools investigative journalists and watchdogs need to get the answers.

Without them – we’ll run off our collective rails even further – as if that’s even possible.