The Clarion-Ledger Editorial, 2/15/9

Efforts for a more open government in Mississippi seem to be coming down to two key issues – time and money.

Ask your friendly government official for a copy of a document and you might hear “come back in a couple of weeks and we’ll see.” Or, even more likely these days, “that will be (fill in a dollar amount) for our time.” In other words, “What’s it worth to you, Bubba?”

Time and money are the roadblocks most often used by some officials to get around the state’s public records laws.

Access to government in Mississippi has improved somewhat. This state still has some of the weakest access laws in the nation, but we do have some rules and lawmakers have been more “open” to discussion about problems citizens are having.

The problem is that loopholes in the laws are used by some recalcitrant officials who don’t think nosy citizens should know about their business. Of course, it is “their” business. The government belongs to them.