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AHH 24-Hr. News

Kevin Chevel Honored by The Arc of Monmouth County
Friday, 01 August 2014
MIDDLETOWN, NJ - Kevin Chevel, of Middletown Township, is being honored by The Arc of Monmouth County. Mr. Chevel has worked at the Middletown Public... Read More...
Free World-Class Chamber Music Concert at Monmouth U
Friday, 01 August 2014
West Long Branch, NJ -  Monmouth University is pleased to announce that the Simon String Quartet and colleagues will again present free... Read More...
Come Enjoy The Taste of Atlantic Highlands 2014
Friday, 01 August 2014
Atlantic Highlands, NJ - Get ready to enjoy the Third Annual Taste of Atlantic Highlands, September 14th from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Taste gives... Read More...
IMAGE Monmouth Reform Temple Welcomes Rabbi Marc Kline to Lead its Congregation
Friday, 01 August 2014
PHOTO: (left to right) is Monmouth Reform Temple’s new Rabbi Marc Kline (center) with his wife Lori Bernard and the MRT President Jay... Read More...
IMAGE Red Bank Police Report - August 1, 2014
Friday, 01 August 2014
Red Bank, NJ - The following police report is provided by the Red Bank Police Department.  All subjects are presumed innocent until proven... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE And Another Thing!
by Anne Mikolay
Friday, 01 August 2014
Despite the fact that I am “The Armchair Critic”, I usually keep my criticisms to myself; however, every once in a while I have such a bad day I... Read More...
IMAGE This Global Church
by George Hancock-Stefan
Friday, 01 August 2014
In the beginning of July, I was blessed to attend the annual meeting of the Baptist World Alliance in Izmir, Turkey.  The Baptist World Alliance... Read More...
IMAGE Skewed View - August 1, 2014
by Tom Brennan
Friday, 01 August 2014
Jenny McCarthy's son calls 911 because she is texting while driving.What does she do?Toss his phone out the window: http://bit.ly/1o8KTMS Denver... Read More...
IMAGE Not the Kind of Anchovy You Put on Pizza
by Joe Reynolds
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
If someone were to ask you the question what’s the most abundant and frequently found fish in Lower New York Bay, including Raritan Bay and Sandy... Read More...
IMAGE Review - Lucy
by David Prown
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
I saw the new movie, "Lucy" the other day starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman and this movie is going to do well in the box office. Not... Read More...

Upcoming Events

Sun Aug 03 @ 7:30AM -
“Half Day Fluke Fishing” Cruise
Mon Aug 04 @ 8:00PM -
Middletown Township Committee Workshop Meeting
Tue Aug 05 @ 3:00PM - 04:30PM
Free Summer Mini-Camp
Wed Aug 06 @ 3:00PM - 04:30PM
Free Summer Mini-Camp
Thu Aug 07 @ 7:00PM - 09:00PM
Prostate Cancer Network- US TOO meets

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!