I’m always a little concerned when a politician says it’s just too darn much trouble to play fair with voters and taxpayers.
New York State Governor David Paterson doesn’t want the public to have prior access to documents discussed in open public meetings. He just vetoed a bill sponsored by state Senator John A. DeFrancisco that would have required this common-sense level of transparency.
The governor says requiring agencies to make such documents available in a timely way would “impose a serious burden on agency staff.” It could, he explains, “seriously disrupt the work of boards and commissions” in the days before a scheduled meeting.
Oh, I’m sure effort would be involved. There’s always effort when you have to do things. But these would be documents to be discussed in open public meetings. The officials attending the meetings obviously have access to the documents they’re discussing. Why shouldn’t others troubling to participate also see them? How much time does it take to scan or make an extra photocopy?
Senator DeFrancisco points out that, too often, an open meeting will be held about a document to which the public has had little or no access before the meeting. This obviously makes it harder for the public “to ask informed questions and to fully understand the document being discussed.”
But I’m sure Governor Paterson is smart enough to understand this simple fact. Maybe he understands it all too well.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.