Watchdog Wire Florida State Editor, Michael Gold, announced today that Historic City News will engage our readers, and our local government, March 16-22; a week dedicated to two of our favorite things — government transparency and accountability.
Sunshine Week seeks to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government, at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger. It was launched by the American Society of News Editors in March 2005 and is the successor to “Sunshine Sunday”.
“This year, we’re doing something different, and we need our reader’s help,” Gold said in his announcement published at Watchdog Wire Florida. “We are asking our citizen journalists in Florida to audit their city, county, or township websites, using a template we provide, to determine how readily available public information is presented.”
Can you access budgets on your county website, or find contact information for all public officials? Are meeting minutes available? Is there a database of all public spending?
“Write down your observations about how user friendly or transparent the website is for everyday citizens. Frame your thoughts in the style of a blogpost and send them to email@example.com,” Gold added. “In our opinion, it’s the 21st century – and this stuff should be online.”
Historic City News readers and Watchdog Wire reporters will have their evaluations published on our state website; selected evaluations will also appear on our national website. Evaluations of the Town of Hastings, City of St Augustine Beach, St Johns County and City of St Augustine websites will be published, on request, on Historic City News websites and social media sites.
This Sunshine Week, join us in demanding more transparent and accessible local governments. “I want Historic City News readers to do something to engage in a discussion about the importance of open government during Sunshine Week — how you participate is up to you, but we’d like to know about it so we can recognize your efforts,” Gold said.
The coverage, commentaries and activities promoting open government during Sunshine Week have led to tangible, meaningful changes to people’s lives and the laws that govern them.
The Sunshine Week initiative is increasing public awareness, it’s coming up more often in policy conversations, and the efforts of participants are being cited as real forces for moving the public away from simply accepting excessive and unwarranted government secrecy.