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KSL Editorial: GRAMA Going Forward

By Con Psarras | Posted - Mar. 20, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Efforts are now underway to try and undo the damage done by the Utah Legislature's blistering assault on Utah's open records laws.

The success of those efforts will depend - quite frankly - on just how much of HB477 can be fully rescinded.

KSL believes there are five basic principles that form the proper framework to go forward under Governor Herbert's pledge to have the law fully reviewed.

First, the law reverses the concept long held in Utah that records are presumed to be public unless they are specifically exempted by law, or as a result of a legal appeal. That reversal itself needs to be reversed, in order to fully restore the premise that we believe in open government. We view any alternative as unacceptable.

Second, we believe text messages and other electronic records cannot be made exempt from disclosure. Giving any class of records special treatment sets a dangerous precedent, and opens the door to circumvent public access to critical information.

Third, we firmly believe in the rights of privacy, as well as public disclosure. No public servant should have to worry about embarrassing personal information being accidentally or intentionally disclosed. Any efforts to strengthen such safeguards are appropriate.

Fourth, we believe the costs of records requests should not be borne entirely by taxpayers. Any mechanism to control costs, and to discourage unreasonable requests or so-called "fishing expeditions" are worthy of discussion.

And finally, we strongly believe that all future consideration of this issue be done in an entirely open and transparent manner. The public needs to be, and by all measures wants to be intimately aware of every step taken to review, revise and seek a remedy for the excesses of House Bill 477.


Con Psarras


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