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This is Sunshine Week; Let the Light Shine

Citizens of all ages have a role in letting a little sun shine on little-seen corners in government.

Patch is participating in Sunshine Week this week by promoting and celebrating open government and freedom of information.

We want to engage our communities in conversation about the importance of the public’s right to know. We want to educate them about local and state freedom-of-information and so-called sunshine laws and the public records that are available. We will explain how to get, use and decipher them—and how and why journalists use them to further our core mission of covering and informing our communities well.

First, a little background on Sunshine Week, which was launched in 2005 by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE).

Participation in Sunshine Week has quickly grown beyond news and journalism organizations to include students, teachers, private citizens, librarians, civic leaders, public officials, bloggers and a variety of nonprofit groups and associations. Last year, ASNE selected three Local Heroes for open government that highlighted the critical role regular citizens can play.

The week of Mar. 11-17 is funded primarily by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami, along with the ASNE Foundation. There are games, proclamations and more all brought to you by the Sunshine Week team, which we have shared with you. Read more about Sunshine Week at sunshineweek.org

Join us at Mountain View Patch and spread a little sunshine around.

Start with a Sunshine Week Open Government Proclamation 
In recognizing earlier Sunshine Weeks, many public officials around the country issued proclamations extolling openness in government. A few introduced significant open government legislation or signed executive orders.

This Sunshine Week, we urge citizens to press their public officials to do more, seeking not just broad statements of support for greater transparency but specific pledges and plans of action to enhance the public’s right to know.

Sunshine Week 2011 can be a time when you as a citizen or civic organization make a difference by identifying local or state open government shortcomings and then asking your public officials to pledge and initiate specific improvements in local or state law and practice.

To assist your efforts, the Sunshine Week team presents a sample Open Government Proclamation that you, or your group, can take to your public officials to seek a commitment on open government with specific action that will lead to increased openness.

Like all proclamations, it begins with a general statement of the benefits of open government at every level. That is followed by a sampling of open government provisions that brought greater transparency to local and state governments around the country. We offer these as examples of the kind of specific action that may be needed in and appropriate for your community or state. We also hope these examples will inspire ideas for other openness measures that may be needed in your community or state.

We hope you and/or your organization will find these useful in considering what sunshine commitments are needed in your government and in crafting a specific proclamation and action pledge to present to your public officials.

Let us know if you are successful by contacting dmk@asne.org and writing "Sunshine Week Proclamation" in the subject line. If your government’s action was reported by the media, send along the link(s). We plan an “Honor Roll” on this website of government entities that adopt Sunshine Week open government pledges and/or take specific actions.

Here is the Sunshine Week Open Government Proclamation PDF and a link: sunshineweek.org/proclamation.aspx

Play the "You’re A Ray of Sunshine" Game
Can they do that?  The Sunshine Week team designed this game to challenge you, have some fun and learn about why open government and freedom of information in the U.S. is to be cherished and held to high standards. Play it here: game.sunshineweek.org/

Resources about the Public’s Right to Know
Read up. There are resources for teachers, including lesson plans so young people can participate. hsj.org/Services/index.cfm?menu_id=9 
There’s  also a host of resources on open government assembled by the Sunshine Week team. sunshineweek.org/ReadingRoom.aspx

--Patch Staff

randy albin March 13, 2012 at 08:13 PM
with me growing up around these areas, it's like being in some kind of a time warp. sure, go ahead and let the sun shine on all of silicon valley, but only for the fortunate ones who can afford it all

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