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Secrecy in Mississippi 2014
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Secrecy in Mississippi

EDITORS:

Secrecy remains a pervasive problem in parts of Mississippi government. The Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information has produced a series about the issue, with help from The Associated Press and the Mississippi Press Association.

The articles and columns below are for use at will for Sunshine Week, March 16-22. Non-AP members are encouraged to run the stories this week or thereafter.

DOWNLOADS

Click on the links below to download a text file for each story.
Click here to download a copy of the Secrecy series logo.

SECRECY-BILLS
JACKSON – Mississippians seeking government records soon could have a stronger appeal route while avoiding court, and they might be charged less for the records. Senate Bill 2507 would allow the Ethics Commission to enforce the state Public Records Act instead of only issuing advisory opinions. Meanwhile, House Bill 928 would require agencies to use the lowest-paid qualified employee to review records, sometimes cutting charges for staff time. By Jeff Amy, The Associated Press. 638 words.

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SECRECY-EXEMPTIONS
BILOXI — State and federal court rulings in Mississippi have put public officials on notice that they can’t keep public records private by seizing them for investigations. By Anita Lee, The Sun Herald. 666 words. 

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SECRECY-DMR
EDITORIAL – State Rep. David Baria has, we believe, identified a significant flaw in the Marine Resources Accountability and Reorganization Act now under consideration by the Legislature. By The Sun Herald Editorial Board. 437 words.

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SECRECY-MITCHELL
Carl Sagan was best known, and appropriately so, as a planetary scientist with a gift for explaining the workings of the universe to those of us who are nonscientists. In his book, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," he proved he knows us very well: "One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back." Column By Charlie Mitchell, syndicated columnist. 664 words.

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SECRECY-BARDWELL
If you’re a champion of open government, then for the past several years you’ve lived in an exciting but bewildering time. Thanks to smartphones and high-speed Internet access, the tools of instant communication are more accessible today than ever before. And public interest in the activities of government has never been higher. Column By Will Bardwell. 760 words.

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SECRECY-ATKINS
  A valuable tool of democracy is the state’s Public Records Act designed to pierce the veil of secrecy and shine a light on the decisions and actions of our public servants. The Open Meetings Act also facilitates the public right to know. It establishes the procedures public bodies must follow so citizens can be informed about the performance, deliberations and decisions of policymakers. Column By Jeanni Atkins, Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information. 1124 Words.

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For additional information, contact:
Layne Bruce, executive director
Mississippi Press Association
601-981-3060, ext. 229
 

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