Complaining about too little access to public information has been a lifelong pursuit for me. Still, I think a “D+” grade assigned to Mississippi by a national group is too low.
This state has plenty of good laws, plenty of verbal support for transparency at the highest levels of state government. The train jumps the track in a couple of areas, including enforcement and, frankly, interest by journalists and the public.
Take campaign finance records as one example.
For as long as there has been an Internet, Mississippi secretaries of state have placed the donation and spending reports of every candidate for every office online for anyone, anywhere to see.
There’s plenty of room to improve the reports themselves and how they can be found and searched. There’s no excuse for not making the improvements. But the reports are open to public view.
Yet how many local papers write stories about where candidates are getting their campaign funds? Not many. No local TV crew mines this type of information.
Much the same is true for the website seethespending.org. It’s a fairly new site operated by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. It offers a wealth of information. Wonder how much your county spent on cell phones? (Grenada County spent $14,071.89 with AT&T Mobility in 2010.) The information is there, usually easy to locate.
- Harrison chides state officials over same-sex marriage at Ag Museum (mississippipep.wordpress.com)