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AHH 24-Hr. News

Middletown Firefighters Recognized for Rescue Efforts
Thursday, 18 December 2014
MIDDLETOWN, NJ - At the monthly Township Committee meeting held on December 15, 2014 a number of Middletown Township volunteer firefighters were recognized for their recent heroic rescue of a victim from a burning house. The Township Committee,... Read More...
Pennacchio, Bucco Push Resolution to Bring Back Cop-Killer Chesimard from Cuba
Thursday, 18 December 2014
TRENTON, NJ - Morris County Senators Joe Pennacchio and Anthony Bucco introduced today a resolution urging the return of Joanne Chesimard from Cuba. Chesimard was convicted of murdering New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster during a 1973 traffic... Read More...
Planning Board Honors Maritime Resiliency Project
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Bestows 2014 merit award on Bradley Beach project FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Planning Board presented the Bradley Beach Maritime Forest Creation and LakeStabilization project with their 2014 Planning Merit Award at their Dec. 15 meeting. ... Read More...
Middletown Volunteers and Staff Get Accolades
Thursday, 18 December 2014
MIDDLETOWN, NJ - The Middletown Township Committee recognized several volunteers and township staff for outstanding service at their December meeting.  Six firefighters were presented with Life Saving Awards for their rescue of a man during a house... Read More...
IMAGE Blue Christmas Service at Navesink United Methodist Church
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Blue ChristmasSunday December 21st, 20147:00pm Navesink United Methodist ChurchNavesink Avenue, (Navesink section) Middletown, NJ NAVESINK, NJ - Many persons feel very alone in the midst of all the celebration time.  The days grow shorter and... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE Our Forefathers Knew Better
by George Hancock-Stefan
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
When one does a comparison between the 17th and 20th centuries in regards to the goodness of humanity, one comes with two different views.  The... Read More...
IMAGE Review - Top Five
by David Prown
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The other day I was scanning moviefone.com to get a sense of new releases for this weekend. Never heard of Chris Rock's "Top Five" and tried to get a... Read More...
IMAGE Skewed View - December 16, 2014
by Tom Brennan
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Got 60 grand?  Well, you can use it to pay down your debt or buy Burt Reynold's Smokey & The Bandit TransAm: http://usat.ly/1G9j9n6 Parenting... Read More...
IMAGE Stupid Christmas Gifts
by Anne Mikolay
Monday, 15 December 2014
Yes, I know. Tis the thought that counts...blah, blah, blah. But let's be honest. Shall we? Whether it's a collectible you don't collect, or a... Read More...
IMAGE The Normal Culture, and Why Liberals Abandoned It
by Woody Zimmerman
Monday, 15 December 2014
When I was a boy, most people lived in a way we considered a “normal” – although we didn’t really call it that. The country simply accepted... Read More...

Upcoming Events

Sat Dec 20 @ 2:00PM - 04:00PM
Brothers in Harmony Holiday Show
Sat Dec 20 @ 2:30PM -
Band of the Two Rivers Holiday Concert
Sun Dec 21 @10:00AM -
Fair Haven Menorah Lighting
Sun Dec 21 @ 7:00PM -
Blue Christmas Service
Sat Dec 27 @ 3:00AM - 05:00PM
Murray Farmhouse Candlelight Reception -

It’s Sunshine Week, that time of year we reflect on the importance of government transparency and how critical it is to our democracy. Much of the conversation during Sunshine Week focuses on the failure of government to be open and transparent. Citizens, Journalists, and Reform groups use this time to highlight how we can expand our current rights and combat government secrecy.

This attention is sorely needed, citizens across the New Jersey are often forced into countless hours in court or before the Government Records Council (GRC) just to get access to the most basic documents like budget data and meeting minutes. We have all seen or heard these stories, local governments operating behind closed doors, in the shadows.

And while we must continue to fight for strengthening the Sunshine Law and for expanded access to information, it is also important to remember why we fight for this information and what we do with it.

James Madison, whose birthday commemorates Sunshine Week, once said, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” During Madison’s time he and his colleagues took to writing pamphlets to inform their neighbors of important issues facing our nation.

Today’s modern day pamphleteers are the bloggers and citizen journalists in city hall, covering the budget meetings and planning board hearings. We must arm these citizen journalists with the knowledge and tools to make a difference in our towns, school districts, and even the state government.

With local news bureaus shuttering, there has never been a more urgent time for citizens to step up to the plate. Go to your next local meeting and take a look around the room, how many reporters are covering the meeting? You are lucky if there is one.

Imagine what would happen if each of us followed the lead of citizens like Union County’s Tina Renna, who became a citizen journalist and reports to the public how the county’s tax dollars are being spent. Or citizens like Camden County’s Bob Shinn and John Tremble, who use public information to identify and implement best practices for cutting government waste. These three citizens alone have uncovered millions in wasteful government spending – now imagine what would happen if we each chipped and did our part.

So while we continue to expand access to government information, we must also be working to expand the pool of citizen leaders and citizen journalists like Tina, Bob and John – teaching people how to access information and use it to chart a smarter course for government.

Think back to those days, weeks, and months after Superstorm Sandy, we saw first-hand how having access to timely and relevant information is critical.

By using the Open Public Records Act, citizens can monitor how tax dollars are being spent to clean up debris. And through the Open Public Meetings Act, or Sunshine Law, citizens can sit on planning meeting to ensure that our shore towns are rebuilt with the infrastructure in place to withstand another Superstorm Sandy.

That is why we continue to educate citizens on how to constructively use the information they gather through the OPRA process. For example, on April 1, we will be training citizens how to cover news through new forms of media(thecitizenscampaign.org/new_media_post_sandy).

With access to information, citizens are able to constructively participate in the process and give feedback or offer best practices. And the more informed discussions we have, the better off our state will be. 
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Follow The Citizens Campaign on Facebook and Twitter! Visit our websiteTheCitizensCampaign.org for free tools and training!