Several years ago, I participated in a gathering of bloggers from across the nation at the Sam Adams Alliance in Chicago. Our gathering, Samsphere as it was called, gave me an opportunity to get to know some really terrific individuals - including Chet Zarko from Michigan.
Sadly, we learned yesterday that Chet had passed away at the age of 39.
Chet was a tireless supporter of transparency in government and was a well-deserved thorn in the side of elected officials who opposed his public records and Freedom of Information Act requests. His latest work, which he believed would set a precedent, was a case before the Michigan Supreme Court against the Michigan Education Association over whether or not e-mails sent by union bosses from school computers discussing union business were "personal communications" and thus exempt from disclosure.
Everyone's money was on Chet.
While fellow bloggers in Ohio will contact me about Ohio public records law, I always turned to Chet when it came to certain strategies or federal FOIA issues. And he was always quick to respond with good advice that proved right every time.
One of the things I enjoyed most about him was his quick wit. He was not only knowledgeable, but fun - combining intelligence and humor in his discussions and comments.
He fought for freedom and individual liberty wherever it was opposed. Michigan - and all of us - are better off because of his work and his efforts on behalf of those principles.
His life was short, but impressive, and full of good deeds. We will miss him very much.