Letter to the Editor: Closed doors don’t benefit government

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Ann Heuer’s May 17 Viewpoint concerning open government in D.C. reminds me of Florida’s “Sunshine” law, which requires that all meetings of decision-making or advisory public entries must be noticed and open to the public (with exceptions for such things as personnel matters or reviewing bid proposals).

This has been the law in Florida, my home state, since the 1960s and seems to work well. It applies to all government bodies from the highest to the lowest levels. Violations of the law are subject to criminal penalties. Yet in D.C., even the advisory neighborhood commissions — which are intended to reflect the community’s views toward proposed activities that require higher-level government action — seem to think they cannot make their decisions in view of the public they represent.

I agree with Ms. Heuer’s statement that “closed-door meetings do not promote good or honest government.” I recommend that the D.C. Council adopt a true open-government law with severe penalties for violations. If the council feels that it can’t function in the sunshine, then at least this law should apply to ANCs and other government advisory bodies.

John H. Wheeler, Tenleytown