Open review

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

With all of the attention Cape Girardeau County government has received recently, it has been all too easy to choose sides. In the process, angers have flared and emotions have been put on public display.

Now the prosecuting attorney, Morley Swingle, has asked the attorney general's office to look into the secret recording of a closed county commission meeting. It is against the law in Missouri to record a properly closed meeting without the consent of a majority of the officials in the meeting.

Meanwhile, Jay Purcell, 2nd District commissioner, has filed a lawsuit seeking judicial enforcement of the commission's adherence to the Missouri Sunshine Law, which requires all government business and records to be open to the public except in certain circumstances.

A review by disinterested third parties such as the attorney general's office or a judge may be both useful and instructive. There have been conflicting interpretations of the Sunshine Law by county officials, and having an outside review could help us all understand the practical applications of the law that requires open meetings and open records.

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