Kay Harris wrote for the VDT today, Georgia AG works to boost Sunshine Laws, quoting State Attorney General Sam Olens:
“The legislature has given the Attorney General’s office the jurisdiction to enforce the Open Records law and this bill will give us the tools to do so.”The bill ( Here’s HB 397 on the legislature’s website) includes some welcome requirements about meeting times and public records officers having to be posted on a body’s website, but builds in a huge loophole:
Olens said the AG’s office receives an average of 400 complaints each year of Open Records violations by governmental entities in the state. The bill strengthens penalties and gives the AG more tools to use to prosecute violators.
Subsection 50-14-6 changes the fine for knowingly violating the law from $100 to $1,000 and allows the court to impose a civil penalty as well.
The bill also strengthens the guidelines for posting notices on websites and clarifies the rules for social events that may attract a quorum of officials. Also, destroying public records can be prosecuted as a felony.
as well as on the agency’s website, if anySo an agency can avoid all that by just not having a website.
And there’s nothing about requiring agendas and minutes to be posted on a website. Why not add that requirement? Agendas and minutes are pretty much all compiled electronically these days anyway. Convert to PDF and another copy as HTML and stick in a website directory: presto, online agendas and minutes.
If LAKE can do it, all these elected and appointed boards can do it.
Whiie they’re at it, they could take the board packet documents related to each agenda item and put them online, too, like Travis County, Texas does. Travis County even includes videos with the minutes. There’s no reason Lowndes County, Georgia couldn’t do that. And there’s not much good reason for the state of Georgia not to require at least posting agendas with board packet materials followed by minutes, all on the web.