For Immediate Release
Monday, April 21, 2014
Media Relations Manager
MIDLAND — Mackinac Center Executive Vice President Michael J. Reitz has joined the board of directors of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government and will serve on its legislative committee. MiCOG, formed in 2013, focuses on educating residents statewide about their rights to access public records and require transparency from local and state governments, school boards and other public bodies.
Reitz coordinated a series of townhall meetings last year as part of the Center’s Open Government Initiative that focused on Michigan’s Freedom of Information and Open Meetings acts that included panelists from MiCOG as well as the Michigan Press Association, the ACLU of Michigan and The Center for Michigan.
“The Mackinac Center has long been a proponent of open government, which is one of the attributes that attracted me here,” Reitz said. “But we also know that we have to be more vigilant than ever because Michigan’s sunshine laws are so outdated.”
Reitz noted that the Michigan Legislature took a step in the right direction when the state House passed House Bill 4001, which would update the Freedom of Information Act to make it easier and less costly for people to obtain government records.
As an advocate of accountable government, Reitz has worked actively to promote transparency in state and local government. In his previous role as general counsel and director of labor policy at the Freedom Foundation in Washington state, he litigated several cases seeking access to public records and also served on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government.
“The Mackinac Center has several great tools in place to help people keep government accountable, especially our new VoteSpotter app that lets users give instant feedback to their legislators about key votes,” Reitz said. “Michigan Capitol Confidential, our award-winning news service, consistently reports on the types of issues at all levels of government that people need to be aware of, and MichiganVotes.org describes every bill, amendment and resolution introduced in the Legislature in plain English. We also have comprehensive databases of school collective bargaining agreements, superintendents’ compensation and school funding reports.”
Also joining the MiCOG board is Shelli Weisberg, legislative director for the ACLU of Michigan.
“Shelli Weisberg and Michael Reitz are both excellent additions to the MiCOG board,” said President Jane Briggs-Bunting, former director of the school of journalism at Michigan State University, in announcing the additions. “Their passion for government transparency and experience in fighting to keep politicians accountable with public records and public meetings will strengthen MiCOG’s efforts.”
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