Open government first step toward good government

Sunshine Week
Sunshine Week

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — This is national Sunshine Week, which has nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with good government.

Sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, this annual initiative promotes open government and shines a light on official secrecy.

Although Sunshine Week was officially inaugurated in 2005, the role of the press in ferreting out secrets and corruption goes back a long way.

If you were to read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s current book, “The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism,” the fight for open, clean government was being waged more than a century ago.

Magazines like McClure’s and writers Ida Tarbell and Lincoln Steffens helped to stir public sentiment with stories about trusts and corrupt local and state governments.

It is a fight that continues today. Locally, the downfall of the Barbour County sheriff and the conviction of a city manager in Salem only reinforce the need for more open government and more transparency.

This is not to say that all public officials are corrupt. By and large, our elected office holders have the best interests of their constituents at heart and are dedicated public servants. Many are conscientious about spending taxpayer money wisely, and almost all want to do the right thing for their communities.

But there are some — Mingo County is a prime example — who would abuse their power…

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