Everyday people fighting gov’t secrecy



March 14, 2018 - 12:11 PM

Sunshine Week, March 11- 17, is a perfect time to highlight efforts by private citizens to keep state and local government open to the public. Citizens like Alan Cowles of Lawrence and Debbie Miller of Independence, whose advocacy has made government more accountable.

Cowles, a physician, was trying to track a local issue when he became frustrated by vague justifications a public board used to meet in executive session, out of the public eye. To see whether use of such vague rationale was common, Cowles examined the minutes of city and county boards in the state’s 10 largest cities. He documented 200 hours of meetings conducted behind closed doors without meaningful explanation as to why and took his findings to a state legislator who co-sponsored a bill last year to change the state’s open meeting law. The law passed.


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