News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 8, 2011

MAX JONES: Local seminar to shed light on access

Public officials, attorneys invited to attend June 1

Max Jones
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Transparency in public information is an important principle for the proper functioning of government at all levels. Vigilance is key in ensuring that public records and meetings remain open and accessible to citizens of our communities.

To that end, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the Hoosier State Press Association are teaming up for a statewide springtime training crusade to increase both awareness and compliance of public access laws.

The program is designed to help Indiana’s multitude of public officials better understand and uphold transparency laws so that Hoosiers can have a more open and honest government. To make it easy on busy public officials, the program is being taken on the road to various parts of the state. Any public official who wants to attend — and we hope there are many who do — won’t have to go far to find one.

For public officials in Terre Haute, Vigo County and throughout west-central Indiana, this special Public Access Seminar will be conducted from 10 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, June 1, in the Hulman Memorial Student Union, Dede III, on the campus of Indiana State University.

As a co-sponsor of the event, the Tribune-Star is in charge of arrangements, and we’re grateful to ISU for their willingness to provide a great space in the Dede conference center for this important seminar.

In addition to Terre Haute, seminars are being conducted in South Bend, Merrillville, Madison, Fort Wayne, West Lafayette and Evansville. The first in the series was this week at the Indiana Government Center in Indianapolis. That session drew 323 attendees.

Of special note for attorneys, the free seminar counts as two hours of continuing legal education. But it is also open to the public.

A panel of experts will offer practical tips officials can use to ensure compliance with laws and avoid non-compliance. Recent legislative changes in access laws and their impact on local officials will also be explained.

The Terre Haute panel will consist of Andrew Kossack, Indiana public access counselor; Anne Mullin O’Connor, deputy attorney general; and Steve Key, executive director and general counsel of the Hoosier State Press Association.

The Tribune-Star has mailed out notices and invitations to area public officials, but you don’t have to have an invitation to attend. All are welcome. We have not mailed out invitations to attorneys, so we hope those now aware of the seminar will help spread the word.

Public officials, attorneys and citizens who want to attend are asked to register for the event online at www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2471.htm.

“For government to work effectively it has to work transparently; and so we encourage anyone with an interest in effective, open government to attend the Public Access Seminar,” Zoeller said.

We applaud the attorney general, public access counselor and HSPA for partnering to conduct this event, and the Tribune-Star is proud to be part of it. We join Zoeller in urging public officials and interested attorneys and citizens to attend.

Jones can be reached at (812) 231-4336, or by e-mail at max.jones@tribstar.com.