Our reporters here at Action News 5 encountered resistance trying to gain access to public records to investigate the recent MLGW story.
That sparked us to offer this "Your Turn" segment to Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen.
Governor Bredesen is in favor of hiring an ombudsman for the state to ensure that government officials comply with the open records laws. Bredesen's not just concerned about access for journalists. He wants access for everyone.
In his words:
"There's a set of laws that are pretty clear about which records are open. I know that when I was mayor of Nashville, the problem I typically had was someone just saying no, using the bureaucracy. I remember one time our police department was mad at some reporter and started charging him $5 a page for records. We had to step in and say 'No, you can't do that.'"
Governor Bredesen wants his proposed ombudsman to also help journalists and other people gain access to the government meetings which are supposed to be open meetings.