Alex Bluestone
Early in July, amidst a much cooler climate, Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a measure that sought to limit the openness and transparency of public and governmental entities.

Specifically, the vetoed legislation aimed to shelter public entities from disclosing minutes, votes, and records; it also allowed for closed meetings.

Without public access to important information — whether it is school district board minutes or the budget of fire protection districts — injustices may go unnoticed and our public officials may be tempted to act in unethical and elusive ways.

Take, for example, a recent embezzlement scandal in Brentwood. As Chad Carson reported, the city administrator of the suburban municipality was found to have stolen nearly $30,000 of city funds. That money, largely from tax receipts, was thrown away at a riverboat casino. Increased government accountability is the only effective solution Missouri citizens have to prevent such abuses in the future.

It is improbable to assume that the general public will suddenly besiege public entities with information requests — commonly known as Sunshine Law Requests. Therefore, the protection of this right is critical to policy analysts and journalists statewide who, in their endeavor for truth, rely on accountability. After all, your government cannot be accountable without transparency.

We often chastise our elected officials’ performance — ironic, since we elect them. However, when they strive to bolster the sense of public duty, as Gov. Nixon illustrated here, some praise and an attaboy are due.

So now, even as the mercury seems to higher and higher each day, Missourians can feel good about greater openness, transparency, and accountability in government.

About the Author

Alex Bluestone