Monday, September 14, 2009

A worthy cause: Open Up Oregon

Announcement of changes in company password po...Image via Wikipedia

Not that many people have occasion to need information from local or state government -- but those that do often find themselves in a weird Alice-in-Wonderland type world where the laws that are supposed to provide open government have been so twisted, constrained, and riddled with exceptions that even the simplest request for the most mundane information is treated as an attempt by foreign terrorists to spy on government rather than an opportunity for a public employee to provide fast and helpful service to a member of the public.

One of the weirdest and most costly results of the present, sad and overly-formalized state of affairs is that information that you once could have gotten with a phone call now is invariably greeted with "You'll need to submit a public records request for that," which is just the first step down the rabbit hole.

The comic strip "Dilbert," about an engineer in a tech company, occasionally features an IT guy who is actually a demon and who is called "Mordac, Preventer of Information Services." Salem seems to have adopted some of this attitude as well, judging by some very non-responsive responses to requests for public information during the recent snafu concerning the hurry-up-quick-before-anyone-notices sale of easements in Minto Brown Park.

Luckily, there's a UO prof who has made opening Oregon public records to the public his cause.
Consider LOVESalem a spiritual comrade site to Open Up Oregon and post a comment here if you've had any problems getting public information or public records requests filled by any branch of government around here. This is something that really needs constant public emphasis.

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