The readers’ forum

Government business is our business, too

 

This Independence Day marks 47 years since the landmark Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into federal law — yet Americans are still distrustful of government. A 2013 Pew Research Center poll showed that only 26 percent of Americans surveyed say they can trust government in Washington “almost always or most of the time.”

That is among the lowest ratings in the half-century since pollsters have been asking the question.

FOIA established our right to access government records and to know what our government is doing — both its successes and failures.

Exercising our right to know gives the public power. It allows us to contribute to our government and hold government accountable. From food and transportation safety to the use and disposal of chemicals, FOIA has helped the public ensure the health of our democracy and our well-being.

FOIA and related state and local laws are only as good as we demand that they be. For decades, members of the League of Women Voters have acted as government watchdogs at the federal, state and local levels — observing government meetings, conducting document audits and empowering citizens.

But more work needs to be done.

The key to a healthy, open and trusted government is an informed public. Celebrate the anniversary of the FOIA by exercising your right to know. Contact your municipal or county clerk and discover what information they make available, ask your local officials to post more information on-line or file a formal public records request — the FOIA and Florida Sunshine laws make it relatively easy.

If it is public business, make it your business.

Maribel Balbin, president, League of Women Voters, Miami-Dade County, Miami

Read more Letters to the Editor stories from the Miami Herald

  • The readers’ forum

    Renewable energy is better than FPL’s nuclear power lines

    In his July 15 letters Bury FPL’s high-voltage transmission lines, former South Miami mayor Horace Feliu insists that the city of South Miami should pay the $18 million that FPL demands in order to underground the high-voltage transmission lines it proposes on U.S. 1 to support a pair of nuclear plants.

  • No double standard

    What is all this talk admonishing Israel about not killing civilians and being disproportionate in its response to Hamas?

  • Police transparency

    It is about time that the police begin taping interrogations — and that should be only the first step. There is no reason for jurors or anyone else to trust the police. Every time a cop gets busted, the blue wall descends and nothing happens. If police want to be respected again, then the state attorney’s office must prosecute cops who break the law and send them to prison; police departments must fire cops who abuse privileges; and police officers must show respect for the law and citizens. The best way to do that is to wear body cams and use dashboard and station cams.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category