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Michigan’s sunshine laws still leave citizens in the dark

Looking back on 40 years of MT

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As we count down to our 40th anniversary in October, we've been revisiting our archives to highlight Metro Times stories that resonate in 2020.

30 years ago in Metro Times: Amy Harmon, a researcher at the Los Angeles Times' Detroit bureau, reports on the "sad state of Michigan's sunshine laws" nearly 15 years after the Michigan legislature passed the Freedom of Information Act in the wake of Watergate. As Harmon and other journalists found, governments could — and did — flout the law by dragging their feet, charging high rates for copies of documents, or just shrugging and saying "so sue me," knowing that most citizens and small newspapers don't have the funds to do so. Today, not much has changed, and Michigan has been ranked as one of the worst states for government transparency. In October, Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel told the attendees at a FOIA Festival hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists at Wayne State University that she was "deeply ashamed" that Michigan is the only state that exempts the governor, lieutenant governor, and state lawmakers from FOIA requests. "We are not opening the doors to state government," Nessel said. "In fact, we are locking them with deadbolts, and then we are nailing boards across them, and then there's a moat ... that's what FOIA feels like with our state government."

What was happening: Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Sonic Youth, and Social Distortion at the Palace of Auburn Hills (R.I.P.).

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