During his 35 years in the job, Raleigh City Attorney Tom McCormick has wrestled with open government issues more times than he can count. Sometimes, hes had to push officials toward being more open, and on occasion, hes defended them when their actions were challenged by the media.
But in the end hes a solid advocate of openness, and these days hes aware that the way things are said and done takes new forms through social media. At a forum Wednesday at a meeting of journalists at Elon University, McCormick rightly said he believed that public records laws in North Carolina probably need an update to cover the new electronic methods by which officials communicate.
What if, for example, a quorum of elected officials on a particular board communicated about public business over Facebook? Perhaps those officials were innocently unaware of the rules about quorums or perhaps they were up to something.
McCormick said the Raleigh City Council complies with the letter and the spirit of the law, including when members connect over social media, but he thinks some other boards do not. Im reasonably confident there are violations, he said.
Legislators should listen. North Carolina has pretty good public records laws, but it also has a history of some public officials trying to get around them. Lets close all the loopholes for good.