We don’t just mean the weather; we’re talking about the week that celebrates openness and government transparency all over the United States. Here at Transparent Nevada, we take the public’s right to government records incredibly seriously which is why we always look forward to Sunshine Week.
At Transparent Nevada, we maintain the state’s largest and most comprehensive database of salary information for state employees. We believe that the best way to keep our leaders accountable is to know where they are putting our tax dollars, so we work hard to ensure that anyone can look up just what our public servants are being paid.
In 2019, we were proud to help found the Nevada Open Government Coalition, a bipartisan group dedicated to keeping Nevada free through accountability. That year, we saw the unanimous passage of reforms that made clear costs for public records should be reasonable. It was a major win for the coalition and Nevadans everywhere!
The work isn’t done yet though. Across the state, there are public employees who are trying to skirt the laws that protect your right to information. A recent article by the Nevada Independent titled, “Dozens of government agencies in Nevada are violating the state’s public records law” found that many agencies were attempting to overcharge for records in an effort to blockade petitioners.
The Independent found that the Las Vegas Police Department charges more than six times the price of the next highest department for body cam footage, despite their knowledge of the law and ample resources to fulfill requests. The LVPD charges over 26 times what the Henderson department bills for a CD or DVD.
While the law makes it clear that agencies are not to charge citizens for overhead when making requests, many frequently do charge for “staff time.” This leads to a situation where a citizen is effectively charged twice, even though fulfilling records requests is meant to be a standard work task.
While many of the state’s employees are working hard to help get the public the information they seek, it’s essential that we call out the bad actors who are willing to ignore our laws. We believe that the Battleborn State should be a place where voters are not bullied into giving up when they seek government records. To make sure that happens, we need your help.
Please consider making a gift this Sunshine Week to help us ensure that the law in Nevada is upheld and anyone can seek public information without fear or prohibitive expense.