Open records are an issue for all of us

Today, The Olympian joins other groups across the country in giving special emphasis to Sunshine Week, a time to focus public attention on the importance of an open and accessible government.

Sunshine Week is a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of freedom of information. Participants include print, broadcast and online news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofit organizations, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.

Though spearheaded by journalists, Sunshine Week - today through Saturday - is about the public's right to know what its government is doing, and why. Sunshine Week seeks to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.

This is The Olympian's third year of participation in Sunshine Week. (Go to www.sunshineweek.org.) Editorial Page Editor Mike Oakland is statewide coordinator of the project.

South Sound residents can get involved by attending a town hall meeting to be held beginning at 10 a.m. Monday in House Hearing Room B in the John L. O'Brien Building on the Capitol Campus. A 90-minute broadcast from the National Press Club "Closed doors; Open Democracies?" will be followed by a local panel discussion with Attorney General Rob McKenna; House Majority Leader Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam; Bill Will executive director of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and Stefan Sharkansky,

Soundpolitics.com. The 90-minute meeting will be moderated by Cindy Zehnder, general manager of TVW. The event is sponsored by the Washington Coalition for Open Government.

As today's page demonstrates, open government and open records are not an issue for the media alone. Let us hope Sunshine Week sparks a dialogue on the damage to citizens when government operates in the dark.