Rays of hope shine during Sunshine Week 

Patrick Henry said it best when he warned that "the liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." The fiery Virginian — better known for his "Give me liberty or give me death" oration — would be pleased by Sunshine Week, which started Monday and continues through Friday.

The American Society of Newspaper Editors sponsors Sunshine Week, with a grant from the Knight Foundation. The week includes National Freedom of Information Day on Friday, which is the birthday of James Madison, another great Virginian among the founders who understood that the maintenance of liberty requires the public’s business be done in public as often as possible.

Unfortunately, as government grows, elected and permanent officials are more inclined to evade accountability by concealing evidence of corruption, bureaucratic inefficiencies and government invasiveness.

And as more and more special interests profit from the tax-funded largess of Washington, they have greater incentives to use the regulatory complexities of Big Government to keep others from knowing the extent to which they benefit. Sunshine Week is American journalism’s attempt to let the sunlight shine on government at all levels and to increase public awareness of the importance of doing so.

Congress is moving forward this week with much-needed Freedom of Information Act reforms, including measures to create tracking numbers for all FOIA requests, creation of an ombudsman to help people navigate the FOIA, encourage agencies to settle FOIA disputes without litigation and penalizing agencies that improperly delay responding to FOIA requests.

These are common-sense changes that should be adopted without controversy. Credit goes to senators John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Patrick Leahy, D-Conn., and representatives Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Todd Platts, R-Penn., for pushing these reforms.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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