At the end of May, the Mackinac Center announced a new project, the Open Government Initiative. Executive Vice President Michael J. Reitz spearheaded this new effort to bring government transparency into the 21st Century.

The Center has committed to producing a comprehensive study that will show the problems with Michigan’s current Freedom of Information act and Open Meetings act laws, which were written in the Watergate-era and are in desperate need of updating.

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation is also working to identify opportunities to improve the accessibility of public information.

The public cannot exercise its rights, however, unless it knows about them. That’s why the Center partnered with the ACLU of Michigan, Michigan Press Association, Michigan Coalition for Open Government and the Center for Michigan to host town hall meetings regarding government transparency in July and August. Local media personalities moderated the events, which were aimed at informing the public of their rights to public information.

Michael Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU of Michigan, said during the Jackson Open Government event, “The Mackinac Center and the ACLU don’t agree on much, but it’s a lot more than you would think.”

The Mackinac Center hosted events in Jackson, Grand Rapids, Traverse City and Troy.

Following a highly successful launch of the Mackinac Center’s first Public Elementary and Middle School report card (mackinac.org/18826), Detroit Public Schools invited Education Policy Director Audrey Spalding and Marketing and Communications Team Leader Dan Armstrong to a ceremony at DPS’s Thirkell Elementary. (You can see the video of the July 9th event at vimeo.com/70002386)

Eight schools from DPS earned spots in the top 100, and each received a certificate from the Center.

Among the guests were DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts, who said, “I want to thank the Mackinac Center. You’ve done great work in this area. You do it in a lot of areas.”

“The Mackinac Center praises good education wherever we find it. And we found it in Detroit,” said Armstrong.

“This is real success, and you are changing lives,” said Spalding to an enthusiastic crowd.