It’s Sunshine Week in Iowa.

Figuratively, as well as literally.

The sun is shining Wednesday as this is being written.

The sun also has been shining lately in Ottumwa’s city government.

After The Courier exposed an illegally closed session held by the Ottumwa Cemetery Board last year, we were recently given the information we had been seeking.

To some, it may seem like small potatoes — picking on the volunteer cemetery board about its action concerning a possible wrongdoing.

The point is, we were working to keep government honest and open. The task does not get any easier. Earlier this year, a newly appointed downtown committee, again made up of volunteers, held some sort of a get-together — meeting — to select officers. Minutes were taken at the “casual meeting.” But the public was not informed that a meeting was planned.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gene Miller wrote: “Put everything in the newspaper, unvarnished. Just ask questions, write down the answers and put them in the newspaper. Pretty simple.”

And, it should be. We go to a meeting, we cover it, we write about it. The public knows what happened.

You all do not have time to go to all the meetings and dig through all the open documents. That’s our main job. Finding out what is going on and reporting to you what we think we all need to know. Again, pretty simple.

That’s why we have “Sunshine laws” — to keep everyone on the up and up.

We commend all citizens who volunteer their time to serve on these committees. That’s what makes our democracy work.

And, we commend our civil servants who work in government. We will always be here, though, to help you do your jobs right — to do government work out in the open as much as possible.

As Gov. Tom Vilsack notes in his proclamation this week, ... “the founders of our nation took it upon themselves to protect citizens from the abuse of governmental power by enacting the Bill of Rights, promising freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to due process; and ... the founders of our nation believed, as we do, that access to public information and the right to share that information with others without fear of reprisal is essential for a free society to prosper....”

As Vilsack notes, we have men and women serving in our Armed Forces, putting their lives in danger, to protect these freedoms.

Sunshine Week is a good time to remind all of us of our freedoms and how we must work hard to protect them.

Vilsack said that journalism organizations and concerned citizens need to celebrate “Sunshine Week” “to educate all Americans about the importance of preserving our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press.”

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