The emails of the Palin administration are part of the public record. That means that anyone in the public has a right to see them, except those portions that are exempt by law.
According to Gov. Sean Parnell's office, Alaskans either have to travel to Juneau to see them or pay for copies and shipping, more than $1,200. The records won't be available in Anchorage, Fairbanks or Wasilla. They won't be available online, either.
As a practical matter, for most Alaskans, they really aren't available at all.
This is flat wrong and completely unnecessary.
Several private individuals and media organizations -- including msnbc.com, The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CNN and the Anchorage Daily News -- requested the email records, because former Gov. Sarah Palin did a lot of public business on both public and private e-mail accounts. The state doesn't dispute that most of the records -- more than 24,000 emails -- are public. But the state has been slow to respond -- and now the governor's office, in what appears to be a fit of petulance and passive-aggressiveness -- insists on making it as inconvenient and expensive as possible for anyone to see the records.
Linda Perez of the governor's office has told Andree McLeod, one of those who sought the records, that she must travel from Anchorage to Juneau to review them. Perez insists that the state simply can't make them available anywhere else. If making state records available anywhere other than Juneau is a problem too difficult for the Parnell administration to solve, Alaska is in deep trouble indeed.
At the least, Gov. Sean Parnell is violating both the spirit of Alaska's public records and a fundamental principle of representative democracy that should be obvious -- public records need to be public. Prohibitive costs and sharply limited access effectively bar access.
To insist that any citizen must go to Juneau to review state records is a slap in the face. It shows contempt for citizens and the law -- and raises troubling questions about why the governor's office is choosing to do so.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.adn.com.