Friday, January 21, 2011
Georgia Sunshine Laws, your guides to Open Records and Transparent Government
A couple of weeks ago I was sitting at table with a couple of bloggers, another politician and a bunch of fed up taxpayers whereby we discussed transparency in government for over an hour. We discussed our personal experiences, how it works, the benefits to the community as well as ways to improve the various governments that were at one time or another were actually put in place to best serve us the citizens. It was awesome.
I explained that as a sitting Dunwoody City Councilman, almost every piece of paper I touch that is City related and every Dunwoody related e-mail I send and receive, is a public record and therefore subject to Georgia's open records law. I explained open meetings law, quorum requirements and the laws surrounding the recording (and publishing) of such meetings to the group.
I told them that I would post a copy of a booklet entitled "Georgia's Sunshine Laws, a Citizen's Guide to Open Government" which covers most non-law enforcement governmental agencies as well as the booklet entitled "Georgia Public Schools and the Open Records Act", a citizens Guide to Accessing School Records. Finally for your reading pleasure, I have included the Blue document entitled "Georgia Law Enforcement And The Open Records Act; A Law Enforcement Officer’s Guide To Open Records in Georgia".
In having the privilege of setting up a government from scratch, I have pushed transparency first by example and then with the assistance of my fellow council members through policies and procedures in order to have long term impact on the City well after we are off the council. Audio recordings and then video recordings of every Dunwoody meeting have been personally archived by myself and published to the web. Recently a contract was let by the City to install a state of the art video recording and publishing system that will greatly improve what I started. Every document packet that has ever been produced by the City for me to review prior to City Council meetings has been pushed to the web electronically for review of the citizens and now through set policies, procedures and capital investments; the city will forever be doing the same.
I had a fun evening spending time with like minded, passionate individuals who are willing do what they can to affect positive change, some of us now working from inside the establishment while others operate through what are quickly becoming defacto mass media outlets (Atlanta Unfiltered, Peach Pundit, DeKalb School Watch Blog, DeKalb Officers and many, many others) to affect policy though the spread of information.
If you are not familiar with open records and open meetings law please do take a look because believe it or not the Government is actually in place to serve you.