An Open Memo to Jim Graham

The amount of corruption in the District is intolerable. Just this year alone, we have had a major scandal in the District’s CTO office that probably delivered six figures worth of losses to taxpayers. Every year brings new scandal and the history of it is well known.

The District’s leaders need to deliver an act of contrition. I have a suggestion.

Most bloggers avoid filing FOIA request with the District because of the cost of it. I was just reading about how the blogger at whyihatedc.blogspot.com had to pay $65 to get some documents to try to learn what happened to Ghost Bike in Dupont Circle.

This is a punitive charge, especially against bloggers who earn no revenue or very little from their efforts. But these bloggers represent a very important part of the new media emerging in DC. Collectively DC’s blogging community is a free and vigorous press, capable of filling a watchdog role that may help to keep government honest.

One way to fight corruption is to reduce the barriers for bloggers to gain access to information. DC’s government must honor all FOIA request. Let’s make this information free, especially to bloggers who plan to use the documents to inform their readers.

This won’t cost much. Maybe the tenth of the cost of a bribery investigation on an annualized basis. But the benefits may exceed the cost if government officials know that there is, indeed, a free press operating in the District and serving its historic role.

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