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AHH 24-Hr. News

IMAGE 21st Running of Annual Trick or Trot 5K Held on a Sunny Sunday in Long Branch
Thursday, 30 October 2014
PHOTO:  Start of Trick or Trot 5K.  Photos by Bob Both LONG BRANCH, NJ - The Irish, according to encyclopedia information, brought the... Read More...
IMAGE Newly Relocated Bayshore Family Success Center in Leonardo Offers Support
Thursday, 30 October 2014
photo:  From left, Superstorm Sandy victims Cody, Lisa and Autumn Lamberson help mark the 2nd anniversary of the hurricane at the Y’s Bayshore... Read More...
2014 Fall Back and Change Your Batteries
Thursday, 30 October 2014
Now is the best time to make sure smoke detectors are working properly  FREEHOLD, NJ – As you set your clocks back one hour this coming... Read More...
Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund Announce Final Grants Totaling 3.5 Million
Thursday, 30 October 2014
Morristown, N.J. (October 29) - Today the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, chaired by First Lady Mary Pat Christie, announced $3.5... Read More...
MidAtlantic Bulldog Rescue "Bully Bash" at Wonder Bar
Thursday, 30 October 2014
The non-profit will be hosting it’s dog friendly event to raise proceeds for the medical care of its bulldogs Asbury Park, NJ – The MidAtlantic... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE Election is Around the Corner - Time to Vote
by Jack Archibald
Thursday, 30 October 2014
Halloween is upon us, and shortly thereafter, most of the public will focus on next Tuesday, which is Election Day.  For the past few weeks,... Read More...
IMAGE A Monarch with a Marker in NY Harbor
by Joe Reynolds
Thursday, 30 October 2014
It was a windy, sunny day last week. I was enjoying the afternoon at a friend’s meadow near Sandy Hook Bay, located downstream from New York City.... Read More...
IMAGE An Enemy Has Done It!
by George Hancock-Stefan
Thursday, 30 October 2014
In one of the well-known parables of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30), the servants are surprised because when they... Read More...
IMAGE It's the Great Autumn Scrooge, Charlie Brown!
by Anne Mikolay
Thursday, 30 October 2014
According to Charlie Brown's friend, Linus, “On Halloween night, the Great Pumpkin rises out of his pumpkin patch and flies through the air with... Read More...
IMAGE In Long Branch, Jeff Bell Appeals to Republicans
by Dennis
Wednesday, 29 October 2014
Long Branch is known for many things—the beaches, boardwalk, dining, and diversity—but being a bastion of Republicanism is not one of them.... Read More...

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Baby Story Time Ages 10 – 24 months
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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!