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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Governor about to sully open government policy

Gov. Bob Riley went into office more than 2 years ago vowing to have an open administration. But now he's about to tarnish what is a relatively good record for open government by participating in what looks like a cover-up for a fellow Republican.

The governor needs to instruct his Public Safety director, Col. Mike Coppage, to make video of a senator's early morning cavorting through the Capitol and Statehouse available to the news media. Yet, the administration is hiding behind the new dodge of national and state security to avoid being open about the incident.

Sure, the episode is potentially embarrassing to Sen. Curt Lee of Jasper, but the public has a right to know the details of why he and a female companion, who he identified only as a colleague, used the swipe card issued to legislators to have basically the run of the connecting buildings.

The incident triggered a lockdown of the Capitol and the Statehouse early July 22, causing inconvenience and extra expense to the state.

The administration claims neither the video nor the entry log are public records. That's a polite way of saying the details are none of the public's business.

In the old days, the buildings would have been locked manually and only a select few would have had keys they could have passed around. Today's high-tech security systems give more people access to buildings but make them accountable for being there.

The administration is attempting to thwart that accountability as it goes into the mantra about how releasing the records and video might compromise security.

Come on, Governor, lay the facts out there for us, like you promised in the beginning. Most of us would like to know why the pair tried to enter several offices, including the attorney general's.

Were they on a before-hours tour? Were they lost? Why did they run out of the building when a custodian spotted them?

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