Newspapers usually don’t get along with politicians. As government watchdogs, journalists are naturally skeptical of a politician’s actions and sometimes of their motives, too. But there are moments when politicians clearly deserve some recognition, and perhaps even a little admiration, for their hard work on behalf of the general public.
State Reps. Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, and Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, received well-deserved accolades Saturday when the Arizona Newspaper Association gave them its annual Freedom of Information award. This is the second straight year Paton has been so honored by newspaper association.
Adams and Paton were lauded for their successful efforts to make changes in state law that pried open records at the Child Protective Services, and also declared disciplinary records of all state employees shall be available for public review.
We noted several times on these pages, most recently on June 30, the fierce opposition that always has arisen during legislative attempts to bring more sunlight to the inner workings of the state child welfare agency. Even in the face of horrible tragedies that CPS might have prevented, the agency and its supporters fended off attempts to allow the general public to see more written accounts of what CPS does day-to-day.
But Adams and Paton were relentless in their commitment to bring something good out of the 2007 deaths of three Tucson children who previously had come to the attention of CPS. They convinced fellow lawmakers and Gov. Janet Napolitano that prior efforts to reform the agency have fallen short in part because too many people have been kept in the dark about CPS’s challenges and missed opportunities.
Thanks to the persistence of Adams and Paton, the public can learn more about this critical function of government than we have ever known before. In the long run, that can only benefit CPS’s mission.