State misses on open meetings law

Published 12:05am Friday, February 21, 2014

Once again, the status quo outweighs common sense under the capitol dome in Jackson.

Despite what most lawmakers publicly may say, many privately dislike open government. They know what’s best for the rest of us; just ask them.

For many politicians and government workers, open government is what often gets them in trouble.

Those pesky journalists and concerned citizens who attend board meetings and demand to see copies of public records often cause great heartburn for those in power who like to slink around in the dark.

That’s why we hoped against hope that Senate Bill 2404 might be passed. The measure would have removed the exemption in Mississippi’s Open Meetings Act that allows publicly owned hospitals from holding meetings in private.

Natchez-Adams County has seen first-hand just how ugly the results of those secretive dealings can be. The county-owned hospital is currently seeking permission to file for bankruptcy, the second time in less than five years.

The bill died last week after the Senate failed to take up the matter.

We have yet to hear a legitimate reason why public hospital boards should be entitled to operate out of public oversight, particularly when they’ve leaned on the public to support their debt obligations.

Change comes slowly to Mississippi. Let’s hope the Legislature corrects this gaping, illogical hole in state law next year.