The public has a right to know. Period.

That’s our take after a couple of concerning Kansas stories bubbled to the surface over the past week. On one hand, you have the surprise move by Frontenac city councilors to terminate their city attorney, city administrator and city clerk. The mayor then resigned.

On the other hand, you have members of the Kansas State Fair Board acknowledging having used a group chat for the past two years, likely violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act. While they claim the online conversations were “inconsequential,” there’s no way for members of the public to judge that for themselves.

In each of these cases, increased transparency isn’t just a good idea — it’s a necessity. The public has a right to know why the Frontenac story unfolded the way it did. The quote of a resident in attendance says it all:

“We didn’t know it was coming, but that’s what we wanted. I mean most of us did,” said Frontenac resident Todd Plouvier, who was in the audience during the meeting.

Why didn’t they know it was coming? Why didn’t the council speak openly about what was going on? For that matter, why did state fair board members say they were still planning to use the group chat next year?

Let’s face it: Open meetings laws and calls for transparency tend to sound great but irritate those in power when it’s time to execute. They make things difficult and awkward and lead to uncomfortable questions.

But that’s precisely the point.

Those who decide to lead should take their responsibility to the broader public seriously. That means that their conversations on important issues with other members of the governing body are largely matters of public record. That means they should explain why they take the actions that they do.

It’s true that once upon a time open meetings requests were more the province of journalists or others who would be motivated enough to type out and file paper request with scowling town or city officials. An open online era has transformed the meaning of open records — and government transparency overall..

But in this case as in many others in the modern world, our guiding principles shouldn’t change. Knowing what our elected officials and public government bodies are doing is worthwhile in and of itself. As the saying goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

The public has a right to know.