Worth Talking About

Here’s an article from the December 26 Cincinnati Enquirer that gives an in depth look at the state of public access in Ohio. The good news? It’s a well written, in depth look at an important subject. The bad news? Public records are not as open as they should be. I was quoted in the article to the effect that the legislature is cutting the Public Records Act by a thousand cuts. Seems like the topic is on a lot of people’s minds. I was on Marc Amazon’s show on WLW last night talking about it as well. Marc and I talked about a number of issues, including whether the names of concealed carry permit should be publicly available. The Westchester New York Journal News recently published the names and addresses of local citizens who hold gun licenses, and it has caused a major controversy. A lot of folks see an invasion of privacy here. A New York State Senator is even talking about changing New Yorklaw to shield that information from the public. But that would be a huge over reaction, and bad policy. Why? Well, assume that some people aren’t supposed to get those permits. How can the public verify that only qualified people are getting the permits unless the public can see the permits? What if a corrupt sheriff is handing out permits for bribes? Allowing the public to see who gets the permits allows it to be a watchdog. And because the authorities know that information is public, they probably are less apt to cheat. As one of my Economics professors said once, “locks don’t keep crooks out, they keep honest people honest.” I’ll take a little less privacy in exchange for more honest politicians any day.