League of Kansas Municipalities: anti-KORA/KOMA?

Yesterday, I drove to Topeka to testify in support of Senate Bill 10, which was introduced by freshman Senator Jacob LaTurner out of Pittsburg. The bill would reduce fees that are charged for access to public documents.

Often times, the fees charged for access to public documents effectively render them private. Documents filed deeper into the caves, make them harder to find, and more expensive to access by the public.

I got a lot of feedback from my tweet when I left Topeka (@tonylauer Some taxpayer funded lobbyist, the LKM, are such drama queens about pesky public record requests. She said “sting operations” HAHA! #SB10) yesterday, so I might as well elaborate.

Several entities spoke rationally. I could see where they’re coming from.. and even sympathize with them. Conversely, they expressed “horror” at the way some of us proponents of the bill were treated. I’d bet we could work out a compromise with those folks.

But there’s a group though, that I’m not so sure about. If I’m “pro open government”, which is a stand I am comfortable taking, then who exactly is “anti open government”?

Interestingly, opponents of the bill were overwhelmingly lobbying groups financed by our own tax dollars. We’re paying for the bullets that shoot ourselves in the feet.

One of the more outspoken and dramatic lobbying groups is the League of Kansas Municipalities.

Deputy Director, Kim Winn, of the League of Kansas Municipalities, “Serving Cities Since 1910″ spoke in opposition. Despite using strong statements in her written testimony like “frivolous or unduly burdensome”, her in person testimony was more dramatic.

“Answering open records requests is not always the easiest thing in the world.”

It sounds like the LKM has some sort of anti-KORA hotline. Winn said they “start getting phone calls from city clerks going ‘What do we do?’” when “sting operations are happening”.

Some requests for information are “quite dangerous” and “A lot of private data is of no interest to the public.” She adds, “It is not as simple as, here is a piece of paper.”

A bit dramatic if you ask me.

The LKM must feel access to documents and transparency to their customers (our cities) is important, because they have a “Laserfiche WebLink version 7.0.5″ site with public documents dating back to 1914. Their website is pretty straightforward in structure. I’d call it transparent. For example, I was able to quickly search and retrieve several documents that evidence their anti-KOMA/KORA stance.

So let me get this straight.. the LKM spends MONEY (that originates with taxpayers) to be transparent to the cities who are their ‘customers’, but it’s a “burden” and “frivolous” and “not the easiest thing to do in the world” to be transparent to….. the taxpaying PUBLIC? And when we have to get creative about getting public documents, it’s like some sort of you know “sting operation”? Do I have that correct?

It might be wise for the LKM to tone down the drama. They really should concentrate on doing a better job with their training programs on KOMA/KORA since their students are often called ignorant, often times by the LKM themselves. How can they get away with calling their students ignorant, when THEY trained them?

I’m tired of being shot in the foot by the LKM. Maybe we should take away their bullets, before they start aiming a lot higher.

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