One of the biggest problems facing the public's right to know is elected officials who believe that they, rather than the public, are better judges of what the public should know and when it should know it.
You need look no further than the controversy the city of Joplin ran into following the investigation into actions taken by two police officers detaining an 11-year-old boy at an elementary school. The repercussions of the city's refusal to say what punishment the two officers received still reverberates, though one of the officers was eventually fired.
Now Rep. Kenny Jones, R-California, has filed a bill in the House that would close many law enforcement investigation records to the public. An article on the bill is featured in today's Springfield News-Leader and Jones explains his reasoning for filing the legislation.
"I think you'll get a more thorough internal affairs investigation (under the legislation)," Jones said, "because the investigators would not be worried or concerned about their findings being made public."
That is exactly why records should remain open to the public. The worst decisions are made when the public is not taken into consideration. Politicians too often pay lip service to keeping records open to the public, then fall over themselves looking for exceptions to this policy. Hopefully, this bill will be stopped before it becomes a law.