A call for greater transparency in local government

by Virginia Daffron, Daniel Walton and David Floyd

Residents of Western North Carolina love to see the sunshine — especially this year, given the backdrop of cloudy skies that produced record-setting amounts of rain in 2018. Sunshine Week, created in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors and observed this year March 10-16, extends the metaphor to celebrate the salubrious effects of open government and freedom of information on our democratic system.

Under North Carolina law, records and information compiled by government entities are “the property of the people” and must generally be provided for free or at minimal cost upon request. “Documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings” and other media are all fair game, “regardless of physical form or characteristics.”   

Our community has learned a lot about the limits of open government law over the past year, as indictments of former Buncombe County employees Wanda Greene, Mandy Stone, Jon Creighton and Michael Greene revealed corruption and embezzlement concealed from both the public and the media over many years. As part of the indictments, WNC residents discovered that Buncombe County provided false information in response to multiple records requests. …

Read more at mountainx.com.