Editorial: A transparent Idaho is a stronger Idaho

From the Coeur d’Alene Press

Shortly after Idaho’s attorney general was sworn in, The Press made a request on behalf of all Idahoans.

The Jan. 22 Press editorial opened with this:

“Here’s a formal request to new Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador to continue something his predecessor did, resulting in great public benefit.

“For years, former AG Lawrence Wasden and his right-hand lawyer, Brian Kane, joined esteemed journalist Betsy Russell in taking their public records/open meetings show on the road.”

Impetus for the editorial was this newspaper’s difficult decision to sue an institution it usually defends ardently. North Idaho College attorney Art Macomber and the NIC employee responsible for fulfilling public record requests illegally withheld information The Press had rightfully requested, an assertion upheld some six months later by Judge John T. Mitchell.

The Press editorial request in January persuaded Labrador not one bit. While Labrador looks the other way on serious public record and open meeting issues — except in his bitter dispute with the University of Idaho and the State Board of Education — former champions of transparency and public service are stepping up once again.

Kane and Russell are resurrecting a statewide campaign to help everyone — elected officials, public employees and the constituents they serve — understand how the state’s public records and open meetings laws work.

Only this time, instead of former AG Wasden, their transparency quest is being bolstered by two other outstanding state officials: Controller Brandon Woolf and Secretary of State Phil McGrane.

Kane and Russell will explain public record and open meeting laws in separate workshops, while Woolf will dive into accessing all kinds of public information and McGrane will explain campaign finance and lobbying rules and ways to get that data.

The Press applauds all four of these individuals and Idaho Citizens for Open Government. It’s our hope that people from all sectors of public and private life take advantage of these live-streamed opportunities to make our state stronger.

Here’s the transparency workshop schedule:

Wednesday, Aug. 30, 9 a.m. Pacific time — Transparent Idaho/Townhall Idaho: How to access public data, meeting info online for free. Presenter: Brandon Woolf, Idaho State Controller.

Wednesday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m. — Campaign Finance & Lobbying: The rules and how to access data. Presenter: Phil McGrane, Idaho Secretary of State.

Wednesday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. — Idaho Open Meeting Law. Presenters: Brian Kane, former Chief Deputy Idaho Attorney General, and Betsy Russell, IDOG president.

Wednesday, Nov. 28, 9 a.m. — Idaho Public Records Act. Presenters: Brian Kane, former Chief Deputy Idaho Attorney General, and Betsy Russell, IDOG president.

To register for the sessions, visit https://openidaho.org/ or contact the Controller’s Office at 208-334-3100, Option 0.

And here’s the Jan. 22, 2023 Press editorial: https://shorturl.at/dxTVX

From the Coeur d’Alene Press

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