Clarkston News Editorial: Freedom of Information

More transparency, not less needed, and it starts right here in Clarkston

Just this past Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court, with a 6-1 decision, ruled on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case brought to the high court on a road which started in the City of the Village of Clarkston. (To read that story, click HERE.)
In  2015, city resident Susan Bisio requested documents, via FOIA, prepared for the city by city attorney Tom Ryan.
While many documents were given, some were not — the city and the attorney stating the documents were not covered by the state’s FOIA because the attorney was not a part of the public body.
Ryan billed the city for all documents, and the city paid Ryan for all the documents.
The lawsuit ensued.
Both Oakland County Circuit Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals sided with the city, putting a big dent in the shield of “open” government.
We applaud the high court’s overturning of two lower court decisions.
In these times of mistrust in all things of authority, especially government, we need more transparency.
The high court ruled the documents Bisio requested were indeed “public records” and remanded the case back to the lower court so records can be produced and court costs figured out — how much the City of the Village of Clarkston owes.
A little over two years ago,  when the Court of Appeals sided with the municipality, city councilwoman Sue Wylie asked, “What did we win? . . . We get to keep some emails secret that apparently no one in the city is aware of the contents. We get to keep information away from the residents and taxpayers of the city, who pay for the city to function . . . . We can hide things with our attorney? We will forever be known as the city who fought FOIA and won. Not a good reputation.”
Well, now the city has lost. What will Clarkston be known for?
Clarkston, don’t point fingers, and don’t blame others.
Learn from your mistake.
We urge the city to stop fighting.
Stop the vilification of the Bisios.
Stop the bleeding.
End the embarrassment, produce the documents and work with the Bisio team for a fair and equitable settlement.
Find a new law team.
And, when that is done, move the city forward to become a shining beacon of openness and transparency.
Become the example of good government.   — dpr

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