OPEN GOVERNMENT -- SantaCruz.com interviews Rowland "Reb" Rebele—a philanthropist and retired newspaperman who has uniquely and remarkably supported the fight for open government—as well as the training of young reporters and photojournlists, the nurturing of the arts and the care of his fellow man.

After rising from the role of student journalist to the position of editor at the Stanford Daily in 1951, he went on to purchase and sell three newspapers in the growing suburbs south of San Diego with business partner Lowell Blankfort. As the two purchased and improved other papers as well, Rebele discovered a significant obstacle to the objective reporting he desired: namely, public agencies’ refusal to conduct their business publicly. When his Northern California publication, the Paradise Post, asked for police officers’ salaries and was refused, Rebele took the city to court and won. Thus began a campaign on behalf of government transparency.

Asked his most frustrating and most rewarding moments in a life of giving, Rebele says:

The most discouraging times are when I’ve received a “no” from people I know have the capacity to give, and seem willing to give, but won’t. I’ll take them on a tour of the Homeless Services Center, and they’ll see all that’s being done there, but they just walk away and I don’t hear from them. That can be disappointing. The most gratifying? Seeing the money well spent. Seeing it make a real difference.
    For example, there’s the Stanford journalism intern program (my wife) Pat and I started, which supports students for one, two or three quarters. To see those kids really blossom and grow and develop a consciousness about open government and open public records; how to investigate and how to navigate thorough the sometimes-labyrinthine public process—watching this happen with 15 to 25 interns a year, who we meet with and they tell us their stories—that’s extremely gratifying.