“Sunshine Week, which begins today [Saturday, March 12], started in 2002 as a nationwide effort to highlight the public’s right to know what its government is doing and why. The American Society of News Editors took the lead in this initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.
It’s not just a newspaper initiative; you’ll find participants from broadcast and online journalism along with civic groups, libraries, nonprofits and schools — all have an interest in the public’s right to know, as does the public itself. The main goal is to foster a discussion about the need for open government; participants can raise awareness by putting on a public forum, for example, or initiating a classroom discussion.
We’ll use Sunshine Week to remind readers of recent instances — at the local and state levels — in which government officials have resisted the public’s right to know…
A democratic system of government requires an informed citizenry to function properly, and no information is more crucial than knowing what your government is doing. This week, Sunshine Week, celebrates open government and all citizens, within and outside of government, who work to maintain transparency among our public officials.”.
1. This blog STRONGLY SUPPORTS Sunshine Week, open government and the public’s right to know. The continued Executive Sessions at Yelm City Council meetings which are closed to the public are an issue here. Last week, the Yelm City Council had another closed-to-the-public session about a litigation issue. The public is not permitted to know what these sessions entail, nor the costs to taxpayers about agreements made in these sessions until the Council votes them in, usually with little advanced notice.
2. Sunshine Week was initiated thanks to efforts of The American Society of News Editors. Nisqually Valley News Editor/Publisher Keven Graves penned an Op-Ed in his newspaper this week titled:
“Social media and its role in the weekly newspaper” touting the value of a community newspaper. To be sure, Mr. Graves is correct on the value of this country’s newspaper’s, especially as a valuable local community resource.
What was surprising about the timing of Graves’ Op/Ed was a missed opportunity to lend his support for the value of Sunshine Week, since newspapers have been taking the charge nationwide for open government. This city’s leaders need to be reminded of the goals of Sunshine Week and no better source for that reminder would be than from OUR own community newspaper.
Hopefully, Mr. Graves will weigh-in with his support for Sunshine Week in his newspaper THIS week.
As the Yakima Herald-Republic so aptly stated:
“A democratic system of government requires an informed citizenry to function properly, and no information is more crucial than knowing what your government is doing.”