Get Smart About the Public's Right to Know

March 11-17 is Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promoted dialogue about open government. Check out a roundup of useful resources and vote in our poll.

Open government and transparency are the themes of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote dialogue about open government. Sunshine Week officially got its start in 2005, but its roots can be traced back to 2002, when the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors organized Sunshine Sunday in response to the efforts of some legislators to create exemptions to state's open records laws. 

But Sunshine Week isn't just for journalists. Open records laws impact everyone. There are a host of free, easy-to-understand and useful resources for you to help you understand what you are entitled to under local, state and federal laws. Here are a few of the best that we’ve selected for you:

The Reporters Committee has an Open Government Guide for each state’s open records laws. The Reporters Committee also offers a federal Open Government Guide and The Digital Journalist’s Legal Guide. The Knight Citizen News Network’s The Citizen Journalist’s Guide to Open Government.

In Georgia, the Georgia First Amendment Foundation is a great resource for information on open meetings and public records in the Peach state.You can also make open records requests to the city of Smyrna and Cobb County

Are you a Sunshine Week Ray of Sunshine? Take the quiz to find out

SunshineWeek.org has a host of resources on its site.

Smyrna Resident March 14, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Mayor and members of the Smyrna City Council. Take note.
Smyrna Resident March 14, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Smyrna Resident March 14, 2012 at 09:51 PM
5) New Exemption for Associations of Government Officials: The Open Records Act currently applies to associations of government “officers” that receive substantial public funding from the government agencies that employ such officials. While Attorney General Olens’ bill left that unchanged, the substitute eliminates the longstanding application of the Open Records Act to such organizations. Under the substitute, such associations are free to operate in secret. Finally, we cannot let pass without comment what was the most disturbing aspect of the substitute as introduced yesterday. As originally articulated, the substitute would have authorized agencies to hire lawyers to respond and object to Open Records Act requests and then require the citizen making the request to pay the legal fees charged by that lawyer. This was an astonishing addition to the substitute. Charging for legal fees in connection with Open Records Act requests is strictly forbidden under current law and, to our knowledge, is not allowed in a single jurisdiction in the United States.
L. Davis March 14, 2012 at 10:18 PM
If Smyrna had open government we would not have: S.J.M. 9:19 pm on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 What I and some of my kindred spirits do is monitor this site to ensure that the few loud and outspoken city detractors do not continue to spread misinformation and lies any more than they already do on other sites and in our city meetings. The City clearly has decided it is in their best interest not to respond to certain people. Perhaps it is because at least one of these Smyrna gadflies has filed a law suit against several city staff and elected officials. Regardless, I do not attack any one. I call attention to and correct factually inaccurate information, misleading statements and even blatant lies.
L. Davis March 14, 2012 at 10:19 PM
If Smyrna had open government we would have town hall meetings, citizens comments would be called citizens concerns, ciitzens concerns would be at the beginning of the meeting, mayor and council members would respond to citizens, council meetings would be streamed lived on the the city's web site, council meetings would be able to be recorded, citizens wouldn't be searched when entering council meetings, we would have print and social media not under the control of the city government.
L. Davis March 14, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Who gave Sean Murphy the position or power to monitor this site. Patch.com? The city? It's called CENSORSHIP. Murphy is a censor.
L. Davis March 14, 2012 at 10:23 PM
From the title of the article - About the Public's Right to Know.
K. Davis March 14, 2012 at 10:27 PM
cen·sor  1. an official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds. 2. any person who supervises the manners or morality of others.
R. Anderson March 14, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Besides censoring an argument could be made for arrogance.
Neal Dow March 15, 2012 at 12:43 AM
"When there is not openness, corruption grows rapidly." -- Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Michelle March 15, 2012 at 01:05 AM
or an argument for intelligence when factual information can and has been produced. Frustrating I know. ;)
Michelle March 15, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Who needs to post facts with this story when there are about 50 from other stories. What is there to prove when honesty and documented facts say everything there needs to be said. Frustrating I can see and hear in your words. Sorry. :) ps....If I'm antagonistic...what exactly does that make you?!? Just saying.
Michelle March 15, 2012 at 12:18 PM
As a matter of fact...you can not be more wrong, but to try and explain that to you again for the hundredth time has proven to be a challenge, so as I have said before and will say again...you keep doing what you are doing we will keep doing what we are doing and let's just see who benefits in the end. I have a feeling, for those of us that want to support our city through our volunteer efforts and positive attitude will far exceed the negativity that some of you feel and voice. The difference between "US" and "Them" is that where we see problems, instead of blaming, we actually do things to make it better....clearly a foreign concept to the "Them" party. Good Luck with your approach, I think "We" will stick with ours. Frustrating I know. Sorry. :)
Kenneth R Lawrence Jr March 15, 2012 at 04:19 PM
I had no idea that such hot political debate could be found in the web pages of The Patch
Jonquil Gardener March 15, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Here is a fact for you Freya. Your post is a personal attack, every bit of it. It is against patch policy because it "is defamatory, abusive, obscene, profane or offensive". Here is another fact, Smyrna is a Pretty Coll Place to live posted a wealth of facts in his first post.
Neal Dow March 15, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Jump right in. Emory-Adventist now has InQuickER.
Neal Dow March 15, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Amen, sister! She's got to testify.
Jonquil Gardener March 15, 2012 at 04:36 PM
People used to BELIEVE in witchcraft and many people got burned to death and drowned because of the insanity that was so pervasive. Your comments and rants can and do lead to the same sorts of false beliefs. Posting "I don't agree with how the mayor runs the government"is not the same as posting "the mayor is crooked and works in secret".
Sydney Busby March 15, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Hi everyone, I appreciate the spirited debate about transparency and open government, however please keep in mind Patch's terms of use before you make a comment. Here's a link to our comments policy for you to reference: http://www.patch.com/terms. Discussion and debate are acceptable, however personal attacks will not be tolerated. If necessary, I will close this thread to comments until everyone has calmed down and can comply with Patch policies. Thanks, Sydney


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