General Assembly Tuning Up To Play 'There Goes The Sun'

Published 3:56 pm Thursday, January 17, 2013

An unfab four bills have been introduced in the General Assembly and they miss the beat of open government entirely.

Every newspaper's beat.

The public's beat.

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Here comes the sun?

Nowhere, man.

Once again there is legislation that would allow local governments to keep their public notices out of local newspapers and stick them only on their own government website, instead.

That's not going green.

That's going incognito.

And it will save a few bucks, but at what cost?

As Virginia Press Association Executive Director Ginger Stanley put it, arguing against the legislation, “government should not be able to 'notice' itself. That is not transparency.”

No, there is nothing transparent about noticing yourself and one wonders what those governments supporting the legislation have against a little sunshine-public notices in public. Don't rain on Virginia's Sunshine Laws enforcing open government.

Transparency allows light to pass through whatever material is between the light and those on the other side of the intervening material without being scattered.

Local government putting itself between the light and the people scatters the light plenty.

Local governments noticing themselves is not even translucent or merely a transnuisance. It is opaque-the transmission of light is not permitted.

Public notices are a vital means of local government openly conducting the public's business, alerting the public to public hearings about everything under the sun that could brighten their lives or cast long dark shadows-consider zoning restrictions, for example. The public has the right to know and the need to know and erasing the law that has so long required such public notices to be in local newspapers diminishes the public's ability to know.

To the proposed quartet of sunshine-blocking legislation we say:

No way.

No how.

Here comes the sun?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.