Letter: No sunshine in Michigan
Posted Mar 20, 2018 at 2:01 AM
I celebrated national Sunshine Week (March 11-17) by attending office hours with my State Rep. Roger Victory, R-Hudsonville. I asked Victory if he had supported the Open Records Act (House bills 4148-4157); he said he had supported these bills, but did have some concerns.
The package of bills allowing Michiganders to make Freedom of Information Act requests of our legislators is stalled in the Senate because Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, will not move them out of committee or up for a vote. In a recent Sentinel guest column (“Sunshine Week would be brighter in Michigan with stronger FOIA laws,” March 14), author Jane Briggs-Bunting of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government states that Meekhof “told a group of journalists last year that they are the only ones who care about FOIA.” Our state government has exempted itself from FOIA. The Center for Public Integrity gives Michigan an F grade for transparency.
I find deep irony in Meekhof’s statement that only journalists care about FOIA. I was the Democratic candidate for state representative in the 88th District in 2016. I am a public school teacher with 20 years of service in my current district. The GOP executed a FOIA request for ALL of my work emails when I was a candidate. Apparently, Meekhof’s party cares enough about FOIA to use it against a political opponent, but does not want the public to have the ability to find out about actions taken regarding the Flint water crisis or the Larry Nassar case.
Victory states that his campaign did not file the request; I believe him. On the issue of transparency, Victory and I agree. Let us hope that with new leadership in the Senate after the 2018 elections, Michiganders can finally get behind the curtain and find out what our public servants and employees are up to.
Chair, Ottawa County Democratic Party