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Politics rarely surprise me anymore. Especially in a day and age when both of our major parties seem to find moderation an unforgivable offense, it isn’t much of a challenge to predict how one side or the other will react to a particular issue.

A rare exception occurred last September, when I was pleasantly stunned — surprised isn’t a strong enough word — at the odd assortment of folks who came together to protest Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ brazen attempt to practically obliterate the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

The governor left a special legislative session claiming victory — as she is prone to do, whether she actually won anything or not. But the fact is, she got only a sliver of the change she wanted, because a very vocal group of Arkansas citizens put aside their partisan differences to stand up for the public’s right to know what their government is doing.Now, we all have a chance to protect that right even more vigorously.

A nonpartisan group, Arkansas Citizens for Transparency, is circulating petitions for two ballot measures intended to keep government documents and meetings accessible to the public. The goal is to get both proposals on the ballot for the November general election. Passing both would go a long way toward ensuring government transparency in Arkansas. Among other things, they would make it more difficult for the state Legislature to make changes to FOIA without a vote of the citizens, allow citizens who successfully sue over FOIA violations to collect attorneys’ fees, clarify the definition of a “public meeting,” create a real financial penalty for public officials who intentionally violate FOIA and establish a commission that would resolve disputes related to FOIA.

I predict that if these two measures make it to the ballot, they’ll be approved overwhelmingly. The heavy lifting will be gathering the signatures necessary to place them before the voters.

Petitions for both proposals are at our office at 802 W. Trimble, Suite C, in Berryville. That’s the Hickory Ridge Plaza, just west of the Clay Maxey car dealership. I’ll also be spending some time in the community gathering signatures. If you’re a registered voter who believes in public business being conducted in public view, I urge you to sign both petitions. If you’re not a registered voter, I urge you to get registered. Then come see us and let’s work together to ensure government transparency.


Scott Loftis is editor and publisher of the Eureka Springs Times-Echo. His email address is