Saturday, April 30, 2011
Public Documents: What Does it Mean
Some of the characteristics I have identified of elites is a desire to maintain denyability, the tell half truths, and to volunteer but not ask. This is all below in one of my posts. Clearly though, the desire not create a written record is hardly a characteristics of elitists. It is actually a characteristic of most administrators whose positions are political -- whether an actual politician or just someone trying to please as many people as possible.
This article about a Florida official raises an issue. I understand that documents, other than some exceptions, must be public. On the other hand, is it also required that a document be made in the first place. To me purposely not making a document for fear it will become public defeats the purpose of the law. On the other hand, lawyers and administrators seem not really to worry much about the spirit of the law as long as they can find a way around it.
In one recent experience, I was asked to make an evaluation. So I did and submitted a very long written report. The person to whom is was sent apologized for not letting me know that the written document could be a public record. My response, "I hope so, that is why I wrote it." Several others were asked to make a similar evaluation. This was, by the way, an evaluation including several variables. To my knowledge none of them wrote anything down.
I assume they acted within the law as a technical matter but perhaps not in spirit. But, I do not know.