March 10-16 is National Sunshine Week. That observance is largely a creation of the media, intended to draw attention to the need for more transparency in government. Regardless of its origins, though, openness in government is something we all should seek, not only this week, but all year round.
Government openness is all too often an elusive thing.
The human nature of the people who work in government calls for them to discuss the business of their own workplace in guarded terms, if at all.
That reluctance to share information can generate distrust between the government and the governed.
Greater transparency helps the government - no matter how small or large - build stronger relationships with the people it serves. The stronger that relationship is, the more likely people are to accept decisions they don’t agree with. When government leaders make decisions with virtually no oversight, people are left to question their motives and the factors that may have led to that decision.
Transparency is a key element in any relationship. Parents ask it of their children. Spouses demand it of their significant other. Being open and honest is a foundation block for those successful relationships. The same applies to the relationship between the government and the governed.
North Carolina’s open meetings laws and public information laws are, by many measuring sticks, fairly good.
Government is required to provide any one - not just the media - with public information.
As we observe National Sunshine Week, it’s a good time for the public to review those rules and insist that the government err on the side of transparency as much as possible.
It’s the first step in building a strong relationshp.