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Eye On Boise

Open access: Holding government accountable…

I just got back to Boise from Moscow, where I spoke at a symposium at the University of Idaho entitled "Open Access: Citizens, Media & Government," sponsored by the University of Idaho School of Journalism and Mass Media, with support from the McClure Center for Public Policy Research and the Society of Professional Journalists. There was a great turnout from both students and members of the community; more than 150 people attended the symposium. A new documentary film by UI students Hans Guske and Ilya Pinchuck, "Fighting Goliath: Megaloads & the Power of Protest," made its debut; a panel including megaloads opponents Lin Laughy and Borg Hendrickson, Lewiston Tribune reporter William Spence and myself discussed "In the Sunshine: Holding Government Accountable;" and I delivered a lecture entitled "Open Government: Why it Matters" last night. Here's an excerpt from my talk:

The laws that ensure openness in government in our state and nation, including the Idaho Open Meeting Law, the Idaho Public Records Law and the federal Freedom of  Information Act, allow people to hold their government accountable, prevent and uncover corruption, and actually participate in governing themselves, as our founding fathers intended. Because we can't have government of the people, by the people and for the people if the people don't know what the government is doing. ... In 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of this society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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