Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sunshine Week

While many public officials are hesitant to share information about what the government is doing, what many Americans don't realize is that the business of public officials is highly accessible, especially when it comes to how taxpayers' dollars are spent.

To raise such awareness, the Daily News is participating in Sunshine Week, an annual project aimed at creating awareness about freedom of information and government secrecy.

A Daily News reporter hand-delivered written public record requests to several Milford and MetroWest town officials last month, asking for each one's three most recent town-issued cell phone bills.

How did Franklin fare?

Franklin Police Chief Stephen Williams also refused to provide complete bills.

Franklin Town Attorney Mark Cerel wrote a letter on Williams' behalf, explaining he would provide general billings, but not an itemized record.

"Public safety and security and personal privacy interests preclude making any of the records available," wrote Cerel. "There is a significant risk that he would inadvertently disclose an exempt telephone number in reviewing a high volume of calls, thereby creating a public safety and/or security risk or a personal privacy violation."

The town later provided general billings of all townwide-issued cell phones, which includes Williams' phone, free of charge. Franklin pays about $3,000 each month for all town employees' cell phones.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

This is a nice attempt to participate in "sunshine week". Rather than make an issue on the phone numbers themselves, I'd have preferred an analysis of the kinds of coverage the phones have.

Do they have basic phone service or a higher level of service?

Then you could have a discussion on what level of phone service is appropriate by department for a local community to provide.

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