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Monday, March 14, 2011

Lawmakers attack public access during Sunshine Week

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Let's start at the beginning: What is Sunshine Week? SunshineWeek.org describes it as:

Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.

Sunshine Week as a national effort is spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors. The key funder has been the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with significant support from ASNE Foundation. In 2011, The Gridiron Club and Foundation contributed $10,000.

Though created by journalists, Sunshine Week is about the public's right to know what its government is doing, and why.

Sunshine Week seeks to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.

Sunshine Week is a nonpartisan, non-profit initiative.

Gov. Bev Perdue has declared this week Sunshine Week in our state, and WRAL is reporting that Elon University conducted a poll on the topic:

The university also polled N.C. residents about a possible amendment to the state constitution that would make all government business open and available to the public. Four out of five poll respondents were in favor of such an amendment, according to the university.

Four out of five respondents also agreed that "transparency is key to fighting government corruption and 93 percent say that public hearings are essential to good government," said a university news release. The poll, which was conducted last month and surveyed 467 people, found that 75 percent of North Carolinians believe governments naturally like to keep secrets from citizens.

And now, you should read about how our elected officials want to strangle Sunshine laws in North Carolina:

A legislative proposal that would make access to government records and meetings a constitutional right is drawing fire from lobbyists for local governments.

Representatives of county commissioners, municipalities, school boards and sheriffs all testified against the bill during a hearing last week in a state House committee.

"We need to do this so that open government truly is a right rather than a privilege," said Rep. Stephen LaRoque, a Kinston Republican who co-sponsored the bill.

Read the rest of this News & Observer article here.

We have the power!

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