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Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 21, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Don’t restrict public’s right to access information

Some records could be made available electronically

Before creating a new law to fix a perceived problem, let’s be sure to define the problem. We hear that filling governmental public records requests is too expensive, so we should limit access to information [“Public’s right to know should not be weakened,” Opinion, Feb. 15].

Why not decrease the cost instead? Wouldn’t it be better to simply provide public access to electronic records and let the public do the searching?

For a start, here are some city records which could easily be made available:

— City Council and council committee minutes, agendas, meeting packets (recordings/videos of meetings may already be available);

— The same meeting information for all boards and commissions;

— City budgets, financial reports and payroll schedules;

— Contracts and all emails in the system.

This would save staff time, allow the public to search and print at home with no fee payment, and help reinforce the edict to all employees that no personal use of government email is allowed. A dedicated computer could be reserved at the city offices for public use for current or archived material.

Let’s use modern systems to preserve transparency in government, and strengthen our democracy.

–Jean S. Lightburne, Mill Creek

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