Tell your friends

 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(732) 872-1957

AHH 24-Hr. News

Lecture: Battery Lewis What’s Old is New Again
Tuesday, 02 September 2014
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - Atlantic Highlands Historical Society presents Gail L. Hunton’s Lecture on Hartshorne Woods Park: Battery... Read More...
IMAGE Filmmaker Brings Documentary about the Rights of Immigrant Workers to Monmouth University
Tuesday, 02 September 2014
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ - Filmmaker Rachel Lears brings her documentary The Hand That Feeds; a documentary about a group of New York City immigrant... Read More...
IMAGE RBR Buc Backer Foundation Presents “A Day at the Races” on Sept 21
Tuesday, 02 September 2014
PHOTO: Pictured in the winner’s circle at Monmouth Park are members of the RBR Buc Bucker Foundation with the winner of last year’s 50/50... Read More...
IMAGE Pushcart Players Announces Artistic Director
Tuesday, 02 September 2014
PHOTO: Paul Whelihan is named artistic director of Pushcart Players Pushcart Players, New Jersey’s award-winning theatre for young... Read More...
AH Mayor's Ball September 26
Tuesday, 02 September 2014
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - Mayor Frederick Rast and the Atlantic Highlands Community Events Committee are excitedly preparing for the Seventh Annual... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE Review - Frank
by David Prown
Monday, 01 September 2014
So as I nestled into my seat in The Showroom movie theatre, I was thinking about how lucky I am to live in an area with both the Red Bank independent... Read More...
IMAGE Slapping Myself Silly!
by Anne Mikolay
Sunday, 31 August 2014
Summer is winding down. I can't say I'm sorry to see it go. It hasn't been a very good season for me. I didn't visit half the places I intended to,... Read More...
IMAGE Skewed View - August 30, 2014
by Tom Brennan
Saturday, 30 August 2014
Want to watch your friends eye roll with useless facts you know?  "Like" Fact Jack on Facebook: http://bit.ly/FactJackFb I want a bathroom made... Read More...
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...

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. 
-- 
Follow The Citizens Campaign on Facebook and Twitter! Visit our websiteTheCitizensCampaign.org for free tools and training!