Editorial: We are all deserving of sunshine

Jul. 01, 2014 @ 10:54 PM

Eventually we may well remember these warmest months of 2014 as the Summer of Digging. It is also a time to rejoice in public records laws.

Fortunately in Henderson, digging can be traced to a traditional literal term related to the performing arts center being built downtown.

The dig has been ongoing for several months in Granville County. School system administrative compensation has been in question, including who knew what and when.

Further south UNC Chapel Hill is awaiting the findings of former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein. Previous investigations got into UNC’s scandal, but never to the bottom of it. Wainstein is hopeful of answers by the fall.

At Veterans Affairs hospitals in our state and across the country, the truth buried in altered records is being sought. Reports of patients dying while awaiting appointments and treatment delays has cast a dark shadow on the VA, which has nearly 300,000 full-time employees and 9 million veterans enrolled for care.

The VA has the largest integrated health care system in the country. That our government is having trouble there is not encouraging as we move through changes with the Affordable Care Act.

Two reports were released Tuesday from the Health and Human Services inspector general. With 8 million Americans signed up for what is known as Obamacare, discrepancies are to be expected, and they in no way are a blanket confirmation of applicants providing inaccurate information or assistance going to those not qualified.

Still, discrepancies in less than five months — from Oct. 1 to Feb. 23 — numbered 2.9 million. More digging should clear it up.

Said Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican Leader: “Whatever one’s opinion of Obamacare, the American public deserves to know that their tax dollars are allocated appropriately and that public officials take their responsibility to accurately and faithfully apply the laws enacted by Congress seriously.”

With a slight change in text, he could well have been covering the Granville County school board, the University of North Carolina system, the VA or any other entity using our tax dollars.

None of the situations are pretty. All are a bit complex. And they come at a time when sunlight in government is regularly getting challenged.

Evidence of the need to stand up for public records laws is as strong as ever.