As the new year starts, a common dispute between media and government has surfaced again. The Standard-Examiner is making another GRAMA request in order to receive information that the public has a right to know.
Too often, the public's right to know clashes with government officials' desire to keep information away from the public.
In this case, the GRAMA request is to learn of communications between Top of Utah cities and the Utah City Management Association. The UCMA has recently received -- and reviewed -- four alleged violations of city managers who, it is charged, involved themselves in "political activities" or "participation in the election" during last year's municipal election cycle.
According to Scott Darrington, UCMA Ethics Committee chairman, to receive four allegations of violation in a year is unusual. He added that some years there are no allegations of violations logged.
THE UCMA has a policy of not naming those alleged to have violated the code of ethics. That is understandable, given the fact that persons are presumed innocent while being investigated. However, it's important for communications between the UCMA and the involved cities, which are funded through taxpayers' dollars, to become public record. It cannot be hidden. Having this information available to the public proves beneficial if the city official is cleared of the allegation, or if it's determined that there is merit to the complaint.
In any event, the business being investigated is occurring on the public's dime, through taxes, and transparency and disclosure are essential.
In this case, and other GRAMA cases, we assure our readers that we will use Utah's Government Records Access Management Act to make sure that government officials stay accountable to their bosses, you and I.