The Kansas Sunshine Coalition on Friday honored state Rep. John Alcala for his support of open government throughout a career in public service.
Alcala, a Topeka Democrat who served on the city council before winning election to the House in 2012, introduced legislation last year that led to expanded access to police body camera video. He was nominated for the Friend of Open Government Award by Dodge City resident David Linsenmeyer, who welcomed Alcala's support for a bill that would have required recordings of public meetings.
Too often, Alcala said, the people in power only tell us what they want us to know.
"People think we have an open government," Alcala said. "We don't have an open government. We have a selective open government."
The Sunshine Coalition, whose board of directors includes Topeka Capital-Journal editor Tomari Quinn, presents the award to a nominee who consistently promotes open government in Kansas.
Ron Keefover, coalition president, said Kansans "owe a great debt of gratitude" for Alcala's work in pressing for recordings of public meetings, even though the bill hasn't passed the Legislature.
"This nomination from Dodge City is a clear indicator that Alcala’s efforts are recognized and appreciated by citizens geographically far removed" from his district, Keefover said.
The body camera legislation, which passed with unanimous approval, was a response to a 2017 shooting by Topeka police offers Justin Mackey and Michael Cruse of a man who ran away from them while being questioned in a park. The family waited 11 weeks to view video of Dominique White's death.
State law now requires law enforcement to release audio and video within 20 days under similar circumstances.