Geoff Pender: State government’s default setting is secrecy

Mississippi government’s default setting is secrecy.

I base the above statement on more than 25 years of waiting outside government boardrooms while the boards met in secret and discussed matters that should have been discussed in public. I base it on untold hours spent trying to get hold of records that should be open and available. I’ve watched the glee many elected and bureaucratic wonks displayed in delaying, redacting, withholding and overcharging for public records and, in at least a couple of instances, lying about their very existence.

I base it on the results: the cockroach hives of corruption uncovered when a searchlight is cast into the dark corners — most often by federal investigators. I’ve heard some say Mississippi’s lack of government transparency is a symptom of its other socioeconomic and political problems. I posit it’s a root cause of these other problems.

Clarion Ledger