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AHH 24-Hr. News

Middletown Village Elementary School Learns about 9-1-1
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
MIDDLETOWN, NJ - Sheriff’s Emergency Education for Kids (SEEK) 9-1-1 program. On Sept. 30, first graders from the Middletown Village Elementary... Read More...
IMAGE Red Bank Police Report - September 30, 2014
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Red Bank, NJ - The following police report is provided by the Red Bank Police Department.  All subjects are presumed innocent; unless, and... Read More...
Lesniak and Kyrillos Announce Fast Track Sports Betting Legislation
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
TRENTON – Countering the latest attempt by the professional sports leagues to prevent New Jersey from allowing sports betting, Senator Raymond... Read More...
Blessing of the Animals at AH First Presbyterian
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
ATLANTIC  HIGHLANDS, NJ - The Rev. Paul F. Rack, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, will conduct a blessing of the animals from 1 to... Read More...
Art Show and Sale Benefiting 180 Turning Lives Around and Junior Sailing Education Program Scholarships
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Atlantic Highlands, NJ – Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club, (AHYC), is hosting an Art Show and Sale on Sunday, November 16, 2014 from Noon until... Read More...

Columns

IMAGE What’s Living in Raritan-Sandy Hook Bays?
by Joe Reynolds
Sunday, 28 September 2014
On Sunday, September 28, volunteers with the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council, an all-volunteer environmental group dedicated to restoring Raritan... Read More...
IMAGE Wakefield Gets SA Chapters Running
by Daniel J. Vance
Saturday, 27 September 2014
My featured person this week, Margery Wakefield, of Lansing, Michigan, has had lifelong struggles with schizophrenia, a mental health disability. For... Read More...
IMAGE Life in the Tidelines near NY Harbor
by Joe Reynolds
Thursday, 25 September 2014
There’s a nor’easter heading our way, but the other day it was sunny, calm, and lovely out. Trying to take advantage of the pleasant weather... Read More...
IMAGE Climate-change Campaign’s Dark Side
by Woody Zimmerman
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
Global Warming is a “new kind of morality,” said British Channel 4’s 2007 documentary, “The Great Global Warming Swindle.” The dark side of... Read More...
IMAGE Steinbach Tackles Paranoid Schizophrenia
by Daniel J. Vance
Sunday, 21 September 2014
He began hearing voices in his head at age 15. Said Charles Steinbach, of Grand Junction, Colorado, in a telephone interview: “It started with... Read More...

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What’s On Your Plate? Family Nutrition

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!