Bolster People’s Right to Know

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Too often, politicians publicly proclaim their allegiance to principles of open government, then privately do all they can to keep constituents in the dark. Combatting that requires vigilance on the part of the people and those officials who still consider themselves public servants.

Though West Virginia already has a strong open records law, the Freedom of Information Act, it contains something of a loophole. It involves the code section relating to exemptions from documents required to be made available to the public.

While the section lists various documents not subject to the FOIA, it does not specifically state that other types of records cannot be withheld, perhaps through separate laws.

A bill introduced Tuesday in the House of Delegates would remedy that. It states there “is a presumption of public accessibility to all public records” except those listed specifically in the FOI law. That is an important distinction that should prevent a substantial amount of secrecy in government…

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