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AHH 24-Hr. News

Labor Day 2014 Gas Prices Fall
Friday, 29 August 2014
Gasoline Prices Continue to Fall as New Jerseyans Take to the Roads for Labor Day The Week Gas prices continue to head downward as nearly 30 million... Read More...
Taste of Atlantic Highlands Scheduled for Sept 14
Friday, 29 August 2014
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - The Atlantic Highlands Chamber of Commerce invites one and all to their Third Annual Taste of Atlantic Highlands, to be held... Read More...
IMAGE Port Monmouth Man Arrested on Heroin Possession Charges
Friday, 29 August 2014
Middletown, NJ - The following police report is provided by the Middletown Police Department.  All subjects are presumed innocent unless, and... Read More...
IMAGE Kongo Across the Waters is First North American Exhibition to Deeply Explore the Legacy of Kongo
Friday, 29 August 2014
PHOTO: Lower Kongo Staff Kongo masterpieces never before seen in the US will be on view at Princeton University Art Museum Oct. 25, 2014, through... Read More...
IMAGE Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Wants You to Join the Fun
Friday, 29 August 2014
MONMOUTH/OCEAN COUNTY - Summer is coming to an end, but for Girl Scouts, it marks the beginning of a new year full of wonder, knowledge and... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE People with Autism Especially Vulnerable
by Daniel J. Vance
Friday, 29 August 2014
Perhaps like you, recently I read of an incident in Okeechobee, Florida, in which an 18-year-old man was recorded on video beating, choking, kicking,... Read More...
IMAGE Aging Rockers
by Woody Zimmerman
Friday, 29 August 2014
A curious phenomenon of our time is the aging rocker. This is not an old piece of furniture but a person frozen in a musical time-warp. Often it is a... Read More...
IMAGE Review - When the Game Stands Tall
by David Prown
Friday, 29 August 2014
I've shared before that my favorite non-fiction sports "Rudy, Hoosiers, and Brian's Song" grabbed me for 2 primary reasons.  First, the... Read More...
IMAGE College Consultants Can Help Coax Students into the More Selective Schools
by wjoreilly
Thursday, 28 August 2014
Some high school students are unstoppable in their quest to get into the most selective of colleges--the Harvards, Yales and Princetons.They don't... Read More...
IMAGE Review - Boyhood
by David Prown
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
I have a sense I saw previews about the film “Boyhood” quite a while ago and looked quite engaging.  But where the heck in this world am I... Read More...

Upcoming Events

Tue Sep 02 @ 8:00PM -
Middletown Township Committee Workshop
Thu Sep 04 @ 4:00PM -
Special Preschool Storytime - AH Library
Mon Sep 08 @10:00AM -
Monday Mix - AH
Mon Sep 08 @ 7:00PM - 09:00PM
PFLAG Meets
Thu Sep 11 @ 3:15PM -
iBuild LEGO® Storytime League - AH Library

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!