This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
As House Bill 477 heads to repeal, the Alliance for a Better Utah believes that the Sutherland Institute's Paul Mero got it wrong in contending that texting is a form of "contemporaneous communication" to be shielded from public view (see "Mero Moment: GRAMA and Transparency" at http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org).
The better argument is that in the interest of transparency and good governance, all communication should be public.
Obviously, not all conversations are recorded or intended for public consumption, and, as Mero states, few want to know how sausage is made.
However, distinguishing a text from other forms of writing is intellectually dishonest.
The idea of hastening non-oral conversations is nothing new. Since the Pony Express, technology has provided the telegram, cable, facsimile, overnight delivery and email all making written communication ever more contemporaneous.
Now add texting, Facebook and Twitter each more contemporaneous.
When it comes to transparency and good governance, we need bright lines. The public should have access to any discussion reduced to "writing" in any form, subject to reasonable limitations already in Utah's Government Records Access and Management Act.
Want to shield communication? Talk by phone or in person. But to distinguish a text from other "writings" is simply wrong.