Editorial: Freedom of information must apply to everyone

  • Tuesday, July 9, 2019 7:46pm
  • Opinion

It’s fitting that the Freedom of Information Act was signed on the Fourth of July in 1966.

The federal law is emblematic of the most meaningful kind of patriotism, which is informed as well as vigorous and forgiving. It was based on the uniquely American concept that the people have the right to know the people’s business.

And that means all people, not just those privileged few in smoke-filled rooms.

Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, or COER, alleges in a federal lawsuit filed this week that it has had trouble getting the Navy to follow the law. The lawsuit alleges that the Navy didn’t adequately respond to, or ignored altogether, requests for information related to EA-18G Growlers and chemicals that contaminated groundwater near Navy facilities on Whidbey.

A lot of criticism has been leveled at COER over the years because of its efforts — ultimately unsuccessful — to end or decrease Growler flights in Central Whidbey because of the noise.

However you might feel about COER and its leaders, you should support their lawful right to obtain information from the federal government.

Sometimes pain, embarrassment and annoyance are a price of freedom, which is why skinheads have the right to march in parades down Main Street, fringe groups can protest gay weddings to their hearts’ content and anyone can say what they want about military airplanes or the people who complain about them.

People in power tend to be critical of sunshine laws because they make their jobs more complicated. Lawmakers in Washington state tried to argue that they alone were exempt from the Public Records Act, the state’s version of FOIA, but the state Supreme Court said they were wrong.

So did the people.

We know that an informed electorate is vital to the functioning of a democracy. Now more than ever, we must work to ensure people can inform themselves.

More in Opinion

Sound Off: Built to last, and well worth a million bucks

Living in Central Whidbey, I have always thought that having all those… Continue reading

In our opinion: Holland Happening may have changed, but name should not

Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce leaders learned that a tulip called by… Continue reading

Sound Off: Holland Happening name is a cherished tradition

By Autumn Sundown During 2019, Oak Harbor’s iconic and beloved Holland Happening… Continue reading

A sad bear, angry deer and Tom Cruise make year memorable

It was an interesting year on Whidbey Island, as it is every… Continue reading

In our opinion: Justices’ rebuke of lawmakers is democracy in action

The framers of the Constitution would be proud to see that the… Continue reading

In our opinion: Shopping locally makes for better gifts, stronger communities

Christmas is a week away, but there’s still plenty of time for… Continue reading

In our opinion: Dealing with domestic violence is often complex

The most dangerous place for a woman is her home. Statistics on… Continue reading

In our opinion: You’re not alone if you are irritated by slow drivers

A peculiar quirk of some Whidbey Island drivers is to travel slightly… Continue reading

Sound Off: SPIN Cafe is in urgent need of a new home

SPIN Cafe exists to serve people in need. Today, SPIN itself is… Continue reading

In our opinion: Remove the politics from development permit decisions

A proposal to remove the Oak Harbor City Council from quasi-judicial decisions… Continue reading

Officials share what they’re grateful for this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving season, we contacted various elected officials on Whidbey and asked… Continue reading