Sunday, March 13, 2005

Today's Sermon:
Let The Sun Shine In!

Today is Blog Sunshine Day...

On March 13, 2005, news organizations across America will participate in "Sunshine Sunday" by running stories supporting access to government information. This freedom of information is vital to our democracy. That's why has organized "Blogshine Sunday" on the same day: to ensure that government remains accessible to tomorrow's journalists.

We recognize that technology is changing journalism. On Blogshine Sunday, we affirm:

* In an increasingly wired society, government documents need to be digital and online, not just buried in archives.
* "Professional" journalists are not the only people who deserve access to our government -- everyone does.


Today, your scrivener calls for each and every local government entity to pay more than perfunctory lip service to its web presence by publishing detailed agendae and recorded minutes (in a timely manner) of each and every council and/or commission meeting held in the interest of the public-at-large.

At the very least, failure to publish the agenda on the web under the same sunshine laws that govern most public meeting announcements (10 days) should be punishable by heavy fines and prominent newspaper/web pronouncement.

Were this the case, many politicians would fear repercussions at the ballot box.

Publishing an agenda on the web the day of the meeting and providing only sketchy details no longer suffices.

Publishing sketchy details and calling them minutes no longer suffices.

Publish details of the discussions prior to the votes, and tell us who voted for what and why... or why not. Don't just tell us that there was much discussion of an issue.

Relying on mainstream media reporters to write about council or commission meetings provides too many layers of protection for councils and/or commissions: What's important to one citizen may not be important to a reporter or an editor or a layout editor; hence, the basic information on a topic (of crucial importance to many taxpayers and property owners) is lost forever unless each concerned citizen is able to attend each meeting in person.

Come on, people!

Call or write your city government today and demand that they get with the program and start publishing the nitty gritty of public meetings on the web!

What we citizens don't know really can, and frequently does, harm us!

Demand that local governments let the sunshine in! If that means hiring someone other than an office typist to take charge of the public meetings publication process, then so be it.

Hiding behind a traditional process gives too much power to local governments.

You don't still believe that your local government always has your best interests at heart, do you?

Tradition be damned, damn it!


Go forth and question everything.

And I mean it, damn it!


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