We hear a lot of talk lately about transparency in government, something everyone _ even local, state and federal office-holders and bureaucrats _ seems to support.
Unless, of course, that transparency happens to intrude on something they feel would be easier accomplished away from prying eyes.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in our New York state government and among many of our area's municipalities and school boards.
As it turns out, March 15-21 happens to be Sunshine Week, an annual event championed by the news media but increasingly focused on citizens having the ability to see what's going on all by themselves.
Your daily newspaper may certainly add context and a knowledgeable interpretation of legislation and occurrences at meetings. This can be very valuable.
But it's also very valuable for all of us to see what's happening without the filter of the news media.
Today, the state Senate is holding a public hearing on a number of open-government bills. Anyone interested in the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings laws is invited to testify.
Important to those who have curiosity and a computer, the Senate plans to pass a resolution to study the feasibility, cost and benefit of requiring state and local governments to proactively disclose records of public significance on their websites.
That's pretty darned important stuff. But, there's more.
According to a New York Newspaper Publishers Association media release, the Senate will also be considering "bills to expand the definition of a public body for the purpose of open meetings law compliance, requiring government bodies to permit the audio-visual coverage of open meetings, enforcement of the open meetings law and encouraging government agencies to give advance notice" on the Internet of upcoming meetings.
The state Assembly will be also be busy this Sunshine Week. A bill is on the floor to permit audio-visual coverage of open meetings. Another bill would require agencies to make records available on their websites. Both are sponsored by Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, of Utica/Rome.
Ms. Destito deserves our support, as do Sen. Craig Johnson of Long Island and Assemblyman Adam Bradley of White Plains, who are sponsoring a bill to require agencies to post meeting notices on their websites.
While these measures and others being discussed in the Legislature can aid the media in their quests to report the news, the main beneficiaries would be citizens who just want to keep tabs on their taxpayer-supported representatives.
We urge you to contact your state legislators and tell them you want more transparency in Albany. Tell them you want to be watching.