Monday, January 14, 2013

WDT: Accident Reports are the Essence of "Public Records"

      Public records are often anything but public when the municipal lawyers decide to stonewall, but a recent Lewis County decision to withhold the names of traffic accident victims due to "privacy" concerns strikes me as a bizarre extension of the routine abuses of open government.
       In Lowville, the cops declined to release an accident report details citing the privacy of the Amish victims.
       An accident is an accident and it has nothing to do with privacy.
       The media is correct in demanding the information as news about tragedy is what part of what people expect in their news reports.
        However, be advised there is a lot of information on police and criminal matters that gets well massaged by the time it passes through the cops, lawyers and the media itself.
       So while this accident data needed to be made public, there are lots of instances where the same circumstances are treated far differently due to a range of interests and prejudices.
       Nonetheless, the fight for open government is a never ending battle and skirmishes like the gun permit flap in Westchester indicate there is not always a constituency for openness.

Watertown Daily Times | Public records

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I actually have no problem with this. Sometimes it seems that our fine law enforcement folks justify their duty by that public record page. Personally, I could care less who got a speeding ticket, etc.. it just seems like news only for those who enjoy looking up others misfortune. But, newspapers, news sites, blogs..etc. take a lot of pride in keeping the people apprised of these types of events and gossip. It is what it is.