March 13, 2011

The Sun on Sunshine

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Dedicated to freedom of information and the public’s right to know, Sunshine Week, March 13 through 19, encourages news media, nonprofits and activists to promote a free and open government — a laudable goal, if often unachieved.

Here on the Hill, The Sun will use the week to refocus our efforts to shed light on difficult issues on campus and in the City of Ithaca. We will observe Sunshine Week through a combination of dialogue on the editorial pages and investigative reporting in the news section. A series of articles based on long-term investigations and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Law will be published beginning this week and continuing in the months that follow.

In today’s information-driven age, citizens have more resources for knowledge at their disposal than many realize. FOIL applies to New York state and city government records, and anyone can make use of this tool. Many government records are posted on department websites, and many others can be obtained quickly by e-mail. The mechanisms are simple, and public participation is critical to maintaining an open government. During Sunshine Week, we will walk readers through how to use FOIL, what offices it applies to and what can be gleaned from open access to government information.

As we move forward, the philosophy behind Sunshine Week will continue to inform our reporting and our readers. The Sun’s role as a watchdog of the administration and the city is fundamental to our mission, and we intend to expand and refocus our attention on this role in the future. Now, as much as ever, it is an essential responsibility.