The public has a right to know

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By Linda Ireland

The public has a right to know.

It has a right to know how taxpayer dollars are spent, whether government meetings are being conducted properly and fairly, and if government leaders are open to questions and scrutiny.

It’s important to note that anyone can challenge (respectfully) a community leader – or the way a public meeting is being conducted. You do not have to be an employee of a newspaper, as someone suggested to me a couple of weeks ago.

Expecting Kentucky’s Open Meetings and Open Records Laws to be followed is not being nit-picky or overly technical.

Those “technicalities” are state laws in place to protect the public – not to empower the media. The consequences of breaking those laws may include revisiting the items talked about or voted on at a public meeting – or even financial penalties.

When officials are sworn in, they promise to “faithfully” execute their office to the best of their ability “according to law.”

Elected or appointed city council, school board, site-based council members, magistrates – or any other city or county board members – should understand the importance of obeying the law. They should have a good working knowledge of Open Records and Open Meetings and be quick to respond when questioned about their procedures.

Most of all, they should not carry the opinion that it’s “nobody’s business.” Any government official who thinks that way is in the wrong business.

If they make a mistake – and we all do – they should own up to it, and do their best to correct it.

Training is available through numerous sources. There is no excuse for not obtaining the information.

You can download a copy of Kentucky Open Meetings and Open Records Laws at www.lrc.ky.gov/lrcpubs/openmtgsrecords.pdf. Or, stop by The LaRue County Herald News, 40 Shawnee Drive, Hodgenville. We’ll be happy to provide a copy (Please call first at 270-358-3118 so we can have it ready for you.).