Brechner Center shines light on open government accountability for political candidates
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In anticipation of the upcoming elections, the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida hopes that voters don’t forget a key issue: open government.
The center, which has been a resource on open government for citizens, journalists and attorneys since 1977, is encouraging candidates to sign an open government pledge. The center has also just released a special Q&A with candidates for Florida attorney general.
Republican Pam Bondi and Democrat Dan Gelber are vying for the position in the Nov. 2 general election. Both candidates submitted responses to questions about open government. The attorney general administers a voluntary mediation program for public records disputes and has traditionally had a full-time staff person who specializes in open government issues. The attorney general is often called on to interpret Florida’s Open Meetings and Public Records Laws, with opinions providing a key source of guidance for government officials.
Bondi and Gelber’s views on open government appear in the October 2010 issue of The Brechner Report, a monthly newsletter on open government and media law issues in Florida. It can be accessed at http://www.brechner.org.
The Brechner Center also released its open government pledge on Oct. 12, encouraging candidates to complete and sign the pledge. By signing, candidates will commit to abiding by Florida’s open government laws and agree to limit use of mobile technology or social media for public business until proper measures are in place to capture and retain those public records.
“The use of new media by public officials, from Facebook to text messaging, can be problematic if records aren’t stored properly and maintained for public access,” Brechner Center Executive Director Sandra F. Chance said. “Government officials need to be held accountable from day one in order to ensure the greatest levels of transparency.”
The open government pledge is also available at the Brechner Center homepage, http://www.brechner.org.
Located at the University of Florida, the Brechner Center exists to educate and promote freedom of information laws and policies. It serves the students of UF, Florida citizens, media lawyers and journalists around the country by providing training sessions, answering open government questions and conducting research on First Amendment issues.