Georgia Bulldogs new head football coach Kirby Smart has been in the news recently after a public records law was changed. The change essentially made it so open records requests could take up to 90 days for a response, rather than a “reasonable” amount of time.
The current law in Georgia requires a response in three business days. Clearly, there is a lot of space between three and 90 days.
Smart is receiving criticism for it because of statements he made that have led people to believe he had a hand in creating this law, because it “allows [Georgia] to play on the same field as Alabama and everybody else,” as politician and Georgia graduate Earl Ehrhart told the Macon Telegraph.
Smart told reporters the following, via Gridiron Now:
“First of all, I shouldn’t get any credit for that. When I went over to the capital, I was asked what’s the difference in our program and some programs I’ve been at in the past? One of the things I brought up, there’s a difference. And that was the extent of my conversation with those guys about that. So for me to get the credit for that is a little bit misleading.”
So why is this important? Well, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) works so that individuals, from media to fans to taxpayers, can request copies of documents such as contracts and receipts. They’re often used so that the public can maintain accountability and in the case of a state university that receives state money, a form of transparency for taxpayers in that state.
As WhiteHouse.gov puts it:
For nearly four decades, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided an important means through which the public can obtain information regarding the activities of Federal agencies. Under the FOIA, the public can obtain records from any Federal agency, subject to the exemptions enacted by the Congress to protect information that must be held in confidence for the Government to function effectively or for other purposes.”
While the lawmakers want to seem that Georgia is at a big disadvantage, they aren’t. It just appears to be a case of politicians trying to score points, along with trying to get any competitive advantage possible, even if it is the smallest thing.
The worst part about the bill, is that it hurts Georgia taxpayers, and those trying to stay informed about the actions of their government.