Skirting sunshine costs Statesboro

There was a double-win Monday for those who like their government properly conducted in the open.

In a unanimous decision, the Georgia Supreme Court has upheld a superior court ruling that not only found that the mayor and City Council of Statesboro evaded Georgia's Open Meetings Law, but forced the city to reimburse the legal fees expended by those who challenged the illegal meetings.

The mayor and City Council in Statesboro illegally met in secret to discuss an issue that affected everyone in that town -- the city's 2011 budget. If there is any subject matter that cries out for frank and open discussion, it is a municipality's -- or any other political subdivision's -- checkbook.

A group of Statesboro residents took the mayor and council to court and sought an injunction that should have deeply embarrassed these elected officials -- a court order to meet in compliance with state laws.

A Bulloch County Superior Court judge ruled against the city last September and ordered it to pay the $4,250 in legal fees of the group who challenged its illegal meetings.

Rather than take it on the chin, the city appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. On Monday, the mayor and council got their answer.

Pay up.

In the scheme of things, $4,250 isn't going to break the bank in Statesboro, but it is vindication for the group of Statesboro residents who fought for their rights.

People have a right to honest, open government. And that is something they shouldn't have to dig into their own pockets to ensure.

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board