Editorial: Importance Of Open Government

Open government is important, and the Freedom of Information Act is there to make sure that government operates in the sunshine.
The S.C. Press Association recently provided copies of the “Public Officials’ Guide to the Freedom of Information Act” so they could be distributed to local officials.
When the Dillon District Four School Board meets next month and receives their copies, The Dillon Herald in partnership with the S.C. Press Association will have provided copies of this book to every council member and school board member in Dillon County.
In addition, a copy was sent to each police department and the Sheriff’s Office and to other key personnel in the above-named places.
We agree that our boards and councils should pay particular attention to the executive session portion of the book.
Executive sessions are routinely part of some agendas in our county, and while sometimes needed, we agree that it is the responsibility of our board members and council members to stick to their announced agenda and to call the hands of others when they do not.
Some times, the purposes for the executive session are not properly announced, and on a couple of other occasions, at least one board has not come out of executive session properly, letting the public back in and announcing what action has been taken.
The Dillon County Council should be commended for their efforts in recent months to make sure that the purposes for the executive session are properly and specifically stated. While the county council often receives its fair share of criticism, on this matter, their attorney has really gone out of his way recently to make sure that this is done correctly and should get credit for it. This has not gone unnoticed. The Dillon District Two School Board has also done a good job in this area and should also be recognized.
All of our public bodies should see the need for open, honest government. While sometimes their disregard of the Freedom of Information Act may be unintentional, it is the hope that with the distribution of these books that all of our public officials will take the time to refresh themselves on the law and will do their best to make sure they adhere to it.