The Flint Hills Center for Public Policy has produced another important investigative report, this time looking at the difficulty citizens and journalists can encounter when requesting records covered under the Kansas Open Records Act.
“What started out as research into property valuations in Kansas has turned into a frustrating protracted battle over differing perspectives on open government. Denials and delays have slowed or prevented examination of government fiscal policy as budget and taxation issues were being addressed in the legislature. Access was further frustrated by decades-old computer technology.”
This reminds me of some of my experiences with open records. One frustrating experience was with former governor Kathleen Sebelius’ office, as detailed in Open Records in Kansas and Open Records in Kansas Follow-Up. It was also a front-page story in the Sunday Wichita Eagle.
Locally, USD 259, the Wichita public school district, has a poor attitude towards transparency and open records. As detailed in my post Wichita Public Schools: Open Records Requests Are a Burden, then board vice-president Lynn Rogers believes records requests made by citizens are a burden to the district. It seems the Wichita school district is quite happy to take our money, but not requests for information and records.
Or, the interim superintendent — that’s Martin Libhart — might make a show in public about having information, but then be unable to fulfill the request.
Sources tell me that Sedgwick County will soon be making a few changes and rolling out a new program that will increase citizens’ access to information. Until then, both citizens and journalists will have to deal with hostile or indifferent government bureaucrats.
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