Just leave babies on firm ground

Adults have every right to take risks, as long as they understand that if taxpayers have to foot the bills to get them out of jams, they will be liable for part or all of the cost.

But putting children in jeopardy through bad judgment is something else again.

In March, Californians Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, began a sailing trip intended to take them around the world. In what to many parents would be an incredibly bad decision, the Kaufmans chose to take their 1- and 3-year-old daughters with them.

Last week, the younger girl, Lyra, got sick. Then the sailboat broke down and began taking on water. The Kaufmans, unable to treat Lyra, radioed for help. A Navy ship, the USS Vandegrift, had to be diverted from its regular duties to rescue the Kaufmans. That came after four California Air National Guard members risked their own lives by parachuting into the Pacific Ocean to go to the Kaufmans’ sailboat, in an attempt to help the child.

Once aboard the Vandegrift, with the ship’s medical personnel taking care of her, Lyra’s condition improved. The Kaufmans’ sailboat, a hazard to navigation, was sunk by the Navy.

After being rescued, the Kaufmans defended their decision to take children on their trip. In a statement, they maintained they had “prepared as well as any sailing crew could.” They added they were sorry to lose their boat.

Obviously, the Kaufmans ought to be required to pay at least some of the cost of rescuing them. California authorities should consider whether it is safe for their children to live with them. Clearly, the two lack common sense regarding their children’s safety.

Public officials constantly find new ways to deny the public access to government documents. A group of Ohio legislators wants to put more teeth in the state’s open records laws.

Among their proposals is one to require that all local and state governments provide records within 20 days after a request to do so. They also want to make it easier for Ohioans who win open records lawsuits to recover damages and attorney fees from government officials.

State Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, put the situation succinctly. Too many government officials view access to public records as an “annoyance and privilege” rather than a right, he said.

Access to public records has become a complex matter in Ohio. A manual on the subject from Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office runs to more than 100 pages. Scores of exemptions are contained in state law.

But Buckeye State residents have a right to inspect records from local and state governments, as Lundy noted. Making that less susceptible to obstruction ought to be a priority for legislators, and enacting the new proposal would be a good start.