New York journalists and good-government advocates woke up Tuesday to some shocking news -- that Robert Freeman, the longtime head of the state Committee on Open Government and a state and national leader on the issue of government transparency -- had been fired over allegations he sexually harassed a female reporter.
The news was shocking because many of us who had worked with Freeman over many years, including myself, had no inkling of his proclivities. Bob Freeman, to many of us, was a friendly, hard-working, always-available public servant that we were honored to know.
We learned in the days after his firing was reported that his conduct wasn't such a secret to some female reporters at the state capitol, in his office, and elsewhere in the state.
My heart goes out to all the women with whom he had inappropriate contact for the humiliation and stress they endured.
I am personally sad, angry and disappointed. Many of my fellow journalists feel the same way.
For residents of New York state, they will lose an important resource in the fight against closed government.
But public servants come and go.
And there are plenty of individuals out there working in local newspapers and news organizations like the New York News Publishers Association; in good-government groups like the Empire Center, Reinvent Albany, Citizens Union and other groups; hard-working public officials and individual citizens who will keep up the fight for open government in New York.
We're hopeful that whomever is hired to replace Freeman at the Committee on Open Government is knowledgeable, dedicated and helpful to journalists, public officials and citizens.
With Freeman's departure, we must all redouble our efforts to keep New York's government open and accessible.
We must continue to demand that government officials honor and respect the people's right to know.
That mission doesn't change with the departure of one individual, no matter who it is.