The Ohio Supreme Court in a split decision sided with a reporter from Otterbein College in Westerville that will release the police records from this private college. The Supreme Court decided that since these officers were doing public safety in place of the regular police force of Westerville Ohio they should be subject to public disclosure. If the student had wanted to see local crime stats or how the police were responding to crime in the area, those records would be available through a public records request. If they wanted to see how the Otterbein Police were responding, those records were denied because Otterbein claimed it was a private college not subject to public records request.
The Ohio Supreme Court found that when a private corporation is engaged in replacing a public service, they must abide by the same disclosure requirements as the Westerville Police Department are subject to. This is great news for then being able to pry open documents being held by private charities conducting public business.
The publicly funded shelters in Cleveland are all subject to disclosure rules because they receive government assistance. Those who claim to be a religion are not subject to the same disclosure and can keep their 990 tax returns private. We hope that this ruling can be broadened to include other activities being done by non-profits operating public services such as prisons, schools, and shelters. We could use more sunshine in all of these activities to show how our public dollars are being used to house people, educate them and incarcerate them. All of these are previously done by government and now are being privatized largely in the dark. We even have the oversight of whole industries being done by private industry such as fracking, financial transactions, waste removal and storage as well as power generation. These are often skilled professions that government no longer has the skill to oversee, and is not deferring to non-profits or other corporations. A little sunshine never hurt any industry or charity.
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