Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is coming to Hailey next Monday night to train public officials, reporters and members of the public on the ins and outs of Idaho laws that keep government records and meetings open to the public.
Knowing what’s what under those laws isn’t rocket science, but misreading or misusing them can lead to trouble and mistrust between public servants and the citizens they are supposed to serve.
Idahoans for Openness in Government is a nonprofit coalition that promotes freedom of information. IDOG and this newspaper are sponsoring the session that will take place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Old County Courthouse meeting room in Hailey. Anyone can participate by calling this newspaper at 726-8060 to sign up so we know how many snacks to provide.
News organizations in other Idaho counties have reported that these sessions have improved the openness of local government boards and their relationships with the public for years after they occur, so it’s important for local officials to participate along with reporters, editors and the public.
It’s important to understand the laws that keep chamber doors unlocked and public records open instead of allowing them to be hidden in secret drawers accessible only to a few. Open meetings and open records give the public reassurance and the opportunity to insist that government work the way it should—for them, not against them. However, none of us can practice what we don’t know.
It’s a fine thing for Idaho’s attorney general to personally conduct public education on government and to spend the time necessary to do that. It speaks of a strong commitment to good government.
Public officials, residents and the lawyers who represent them should show their appreciation by not missing this chance to learn more from the state’s attorney.