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AHH 24-Hr. News

IMAGE Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Louise Glück at Monmouth U April 24
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ  – The 2013-2014 Visiting Writers Series closes with a very special reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Louise Glück... Read More...
Freeholders Proclaim 2014 ‘Library Week’ in Monmouth County
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders recognizes the importance of the library system and has declared the week of April... Read More...
IMAGE Union Beach Church Recipient of Make a Difference Day Award
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
Elijah Rodriguez (second from left) at Make a Difference Day National Award Ceremony  UNION BEACH, NJ - Gateway Church of Christ is the... Read More...
How Most of America’s Food is Controlled by a Few Corporations
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
LINCROFT, NJ – How 80 per cent of America’s food production has become dominated by a few corporate food processors will be explored by Patty... Read More...
Local Students Win Awards at Heritage National Music Festival
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
TINTON FALLS, N.J. –  The Upper School Chorus, Show Choir and Orchestra at Ranney School,  under the direction of instructors Tess... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE COMMON CORE Can Deliver Rigor to US Schools If It's not an Iron-Clad Mandate
by wjoreilly
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
  Make way for the Common Core, coming soon to a public school near you. Some are thrilled, others bored, and still others terrified of the... Read More...
IMAGE April Love – and April Fool
by Woody Zimmerman
Wednesday, 16 April 2014
(Edited from an article of April 2004) At our house April 1st is a favorite date for more than the usual silly reasons of practical jokes and... Read More...
IMAGE Ospreys Return this Spring To Raise A Family
by Joe Reynolds
Monday, 14 April 2014
For the past dozen years or more, during the first full week of April, I have celebrated the return of spring to Sandy Hook Bay and Raritan Bay with... Read More...
IMAGE Getting Into That "Highly Selective American College": Get Involved in Your World...NOW!
by wjoreilly
Monday, 14 April 2014
These are the schools your parents want you to get into, your friends want to get into--you may even want to get into one of them yourself. They run... Read More...
IMAGE Mayoral Candidate Avery Grant’s Pioneering Vision for Long Branch: “A Community.”
by Dennis
Sunday, 13 April 2014
When retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Avery Grant, a veteran of the Vietnam War, first moved to Long Branch, he was taken not only by its natural... Read More...

Upcoming Events

Wed Apr 16 @ 9:30AM - 10:50AM
Story Time
Wed Apr 16 @ 3:00PM -
FROZEN Movie Party at MT Library
Wed Apr 16 @ 7:30PM -
Rain Gardens, Design and Construction
Thu Apr 17 @ 3:15PM - 04:30PM
Children's Programs
Thu Apr 17 @ 7:00PM -
Dead Beat Poets Society

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!