Openness has no constituency.

I used to know Emil Franzi, an Arizona talk show host and political consultant/activist.

So when someone sent me this column yesterday, Web becomes clearinghouse where openness advocates can gather, share their tips, and Emil was mentioned in the first paragraph, I figured that’s why I was getting the link.

Turns out, though, that the column is about WikiFOIA.

Emil once told columnist Mark Evans that it’s always going to be hard to pass better open records legislation in a state because “openness has no constituency”.

Evans believes that is changing because of the internet.  (I agree.)  He notes how the FOIAsphere sprang into coordinated action last summer to ding Arizona Senator John Kyl for holding up important reforms on the federal level with FOIA laws. Ultimately, Kyl backed down and the reforms passed.

Turning to WikiFOIA, Evans writes about how we try to make open records accessible to ordinary citizens:

But a new site has spread rapidly, bringing openness to the people. The content of http://www.wikifoia.org is created and modified by users. While most Web-based openness sites focus on the federal government, this one has pages for every state.

The Arizona site has, among other things, information about the state public records law, a guide on how to request a record, e-mail and Web site addresses to county and municipal clerks, plus an automatic records request letter generator.

The site is great for journalists but more useful to people who generally don’t know the law or how to get information from their government.

In the few months it’s been up, it’s been modified and expanded dozens of times, becoming more useful with each change.

It’s grass-roots sunshine.

Thank you so much!

What we like about the wiki format is that it allows hundreds of people to add the resources they’ve found that have helped them–and to find each other.

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