After a third request from The Marietta Times this week, Marietta mayor Joe Matthews has said he will turn over requested job applications for city positions, although he later said he could yet again change his mind.
Previously, Matthews had said he didn't want to expose any job seekers whose current employers weren't aware they were looking for a new position.
We're glad Matthews decided to comply with the law and hope he follows through and then continues to follow the state's public records laws during his four years in office. The laws are an important part of making government as transparent as possible to the taxpayers who fund it.
Aside from education and training on the Sunshine Law, we think there's something else officials like Matthews can do to make future situations like this easier, for both the people who applied and those seeking public records.
Why not include on job applications or notices that since the person is applying for a public position, his or her name and application will become public record and could become public knowledge? Those people won't have the same expectation of privacy that applying for a job in the private sector affords those applicants.
Many people who don't work in the public sector are uninformed about the details of public records laws and may not otherwise realize that the information they're providing is legally available to anyone who requests it.
If that's included in the job description, then everyone knows exactly what they're getting into when they apply and there will be no surprises.
That way, the person accepting the applications doesn't have to try to avoid records requests in order to protect applicants and the law can be followed.
We think that's something that not only Matthews, but everyone in a similar position, should consider.