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In 1976, two powerful weapons against abuses of public power and the public purse were placed in the hands of Michigan residents: the state’s Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act. The spirit of these laws is that the people “shall be informed so that they may fully participate in the democratic process.”
Technological advances have made it easier than ever for public officials to accommodate these open records laws, and the people of Michigan have benefited. Yet today, as in Jefferson’s time, there are public officials who create “intricacies of system and shuffling.”
In part one of the Issues and Ideas forum, Ken Braun, director of the Mackinac Center’s Show Michigan the Money project, encourages elected officials, school districts and government entities to make information available on the Internet for public inspection.Part two shows veteran journalist Ron Dzwonkowski discussing what public officials, the media and everyday citizen-activists can do to make sure more of the people’s business is accessible. Associate editor of the Detroit Free Press, Dzwonkowski has been covering and writing about Michigan since 1973.