The Governor of North Carolina, Bev Perdue, issued a proclamation declaring the week of March 15 Sunshine Week across North Carolina. Sunshine Week celebrates transparency in government and calls attention to its importance in our democracy.
The week will enable citizens, journalists, and other people interested in transparency in government the opportunity to learn how to obtain information and how to ask the right questions to do so.
The week, started as a national initiative by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, is hoped to raise awareness to the importance of citizen access.
Both Governor Perdue and President Obama in the first day of their respective offices issued executive orders related to transparency in government spending and contract awards.
The governor’s proclamation reminds all the citizen’s right of access to government meetings and records is safeguarded in the state’s constitution and instills trust and confidence among citizens in our democracy.
The N.C. Open Government Coalition, an organization dedicated to making citizens of North Carolina aware of their right of access under the law, will hold a workshop on current access issues in the state on Wednesday, March 18 at the Levine Museum of the New South. President of the group, Hugh Stevens, said, “At the very least, excessive government secrecy promotes estrangement between the people and their leaders and causes the public to lose confidence in the democratic process. At its worst it provides cover for corruption and malfeasance. We welcome Governor Perdue's proclamation and look forward to working with her administration to make North Carolina "the Sunshine State" where open government is concerned.”
To mark Sunshine Week in the state, Carolina Public Press is launching “Full Disclosure,” a series of public-records events.
Upcoming workshops will share the wealth of (mostly) free information that’s available to anyone, if you know where to look and how to ask. The first is on Thursday, March 15, at Western Carolina University; the second is on March 16, at UNC Asheville. WCU’s Department of Communication and UNCA’s Department of Mass Communication at UNCA are co-hosting the event. Mountain Xpress and UNCA are sponsors. Seating is limited.
The Internet’s role in advancing access will loom large in the sessions. For example, we’ll discuss these 10 key resources for finding public records in North Carolina, for starters:
N.C. Guide to Open Government and Public Records
A joint publication of the state Attorney General’s office and the North Carolina Press Association, this guide was produced in 2008, and it still provides an accurate and concise explanation of most of the state’s laws on public meetings and records.
North Carolina Press Association
Many of the state’s stalwart defenders of freedom of information are involved with the NCPA, which has about 178 member media organizations, the most being newspapers.
The association’s website is a prime place to track challenges and changes to state openness laws. See monthly newsletters, which appear on the homepage, and weekly updates, for up-to-date news and commentary.