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Keep it transparent

March 13-19 we celebrated Sunshine Week, those days in March when the spirit of the state’s laws that guide the open records and open meetings regulations are held up to the light of day and praised for their importance.

It’s during this time when attempts to circumvent these laws over the past year are called out and those behind those circumvention attempts are brought to light.

Wisconsin, for decades, has held up its open records and open meetings laws to the world, exclaiming their existence as true models for others to follow.

We’re proud of the fact that we allow residents and taxpayers to look in on the workings of government and to see, through the open records and meeting laws, exactly what is transpiring.

After all, those in elected office and those serving in governmental positions should be held to the highest standards. Allowing them to conduct business and to pass policy behind closed doors is not our way.

Here is how the American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press define Sunshine Week: “Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.”

With the week described and the attributes of the special week defined, we right here in St. Croix County need to continue to be vigilant. In today’s letters to the editor is one penned by Peter Tharp of Roberts.

It seems that Mr. Tharp has raised the ire of, most specifically, Village President Willard Moeri. That’s because Tharp has made it a point to keep on top of the happenings in his village and has made himself known at the village hall for his requests for open records.

The village is apparently looking for ways to increase the cost of records to offset the cost in searching and producing requested documents.

We will keep this short and to the point: Mr. Moeri -- that is your job. Were you not elected to represent the people and to work for your consituents?

The laws are pretty clear. Charges may be made and paid for those requesting documents. That’s fine.

What is not fine is attempting to find ways that impede and make it difficult to secure public records. Raising the price for said documents is not the way to promote transparency. Saying you are transparent doesn’t cut it. Being transparent and making access as easy as possible is imperative.

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