MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - You often hear it said that "open government is good government."
Last week was "Sunshine Week," the 10th annual nationwide celebration of the access to public information and what it means for you and your community. There are two obvious questions: what is Sunshine Week, and why didn't you tell me about it last week? The answer to the second question is simple I didn't know about this opportunity until this week. I already have it on my calendar to remind you prior to the event next year.
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.
Some 300 exemptions to open government laws have been defeated in the legislative sessions, because of the increased public and legislative awareness that resulted from the Sunshine reports and commentary.
Here in the River Region people have always sought to hold elected officials accountable and for the public's right to know about important issues such as police incident reports, commission meetings and how your tax dollars are being spent. This is even more important when you know, according to a poll just released last week by United States Public Interest Research Group that gives Alabama a D, there are only three states with a worse grade. Sunshine week is an opportunity for everyone to have more accessibility to that information.
Efforts like this are being cited as real forces for moving the public away from simply accepting excessive and unwarranted government secrecy.
We know that transparency in government means nothing if it is not respected, obeyed and enforced. For more information about Sunshine week please go to www.sunshineweek.org