Editor’s Note: Last Call for Political Letters (Again)

Plus: Sunshine is a good thing

If this headline looks familiar, it’s because I used it in last week’s paper to give fair warning that the last political letters we will publish pertaining to the April 2 election will appear in our March 22 issue. The deadline for those letters is Monday, March 18, at noon.

We refrain from publishing letters the week prior to an election because if we allowed a letter that carried misinformation about a candidate, there would be zero time for us to make it up to that candidate. If we leave ourselves a week, it’s a safety net.

Those of you who write letters know I do my best to prevent the distribution of misinformation by requiring sources I can see that verify any facts, numbers, quotes or attributions a letter writer may use – anything, in other words, that isn’t strictly opinion. 

Thankfully, only a few of you grow upset or offended by this requirement, thinking I’m questioning your honesty, integrity or intelligence. That’s not the case. As a person who deals with upwards of 20,000 words each week, I can tell you that people make mistakes. They mishear, misread, misremember, miswrite. Showing me a link or screenshot from a reputable source also reaffirms for you what you think you know. It’s good for both of us. 

Also, we’re heading into Sunshine Week this week (March 10-16), a nonpartisan collaboration among groups in the journalism, civic, education, government and private sectors that shines a light on the importance of public records and open government and access to public information. 

You may think that open meetings and public records are not denied you here in Door County, and certainly we don’t have to make many Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from here. But I’d also say there are a lot of closed meetings at our local municipalities. Some use them infrequently with easily understood reasons. Others use them too much or are unclear about their reasons or have all their conversation pertaining to a particular topic locked within the confines of that closed session. They may vote by the book – that has to be done in open session – but that’s it. 

The municipalities that overuse closed sessions may not be violating the letter of the law, but certainly they are violating its spirit of transparency and could use a reminder that sunshine is a good thing.