The secret to more open Oregon government is simple: fewer secrets.
Fewer records requests that have to go to court to have any chance of success. Lower prices or a price of zero charged by government for records the public is entitled to see. Public records should not only be accessible to wealthy individuals or big corporations.
The Oregon Legislature could help ensure those things happen by passing Senate Bill 500. The bill doesn’t technically make Oregon government more open. It takes Oregon’s position of public records advocate and moves it to be more independent. The position will be subject to less control from the governor’s office. The bill is scheduled for a work session later this week.
Nobody in the governor’s office may have done anything technically wrong in the events that led to the resignation of Oregon’s first public records advocate Ginger McCall. It felt wrong to her. And the independence of the office was a critical issue in that dispute.
Oregon needs a strong independent voice helping state and local government adhere to the letter and the spirit of the state’s public records law. SB 500 helps get us there.