Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens successfully fought for and
implemented changes to the state’s Open Records law, believing that
transparency in government is essential to the public trust. The law
passed in 2012 states, “The General Assembly finds and
declares that the strong public policy of this state is in favor of
open government; that open government is essential to a free, open,
and democratic society; and that public access to public records
should be encouraged to foster confidence in government and so that
the public can evaluate the expenditure of public funds and the
efficient and proper functioning of its institutions.”
The VDT asked for records from the Lowndes County school system
and didn’t get them.
Their experience sounds quite similar to many LAKE has had
with the county government in particular,
with records not being provided in the statutory three days,
and sometimes not even an excuse or a list of what might
eventually be available.
When officials act like they have something to hide, they often do….
Here’s George’s Open Records Request.
February 7, 2013
George Boston Rhynes (229-251-8645)
5004 Oak Drive
Valdosta, Georgia 31605
TO: Valdosta-Lowndes County; South Georgia Regional Library
Director/Chair person along with Board Members Respectively, Georgia
News Media Outlets concerned about open government and the sunshine
SUBJECT: An open records request on behalf of the general public
right to know…
The Lowndes County Commission appointed people to four boards, approved a budget for next fiscal year, made some unspecified changes to this year’s budget, and demonstrated they could both stop speeding traffic on a rural road and put a cap on a construction contract! All this in one meeting, their Regular Session of 26 June 2012.
Budget, boards, and abandonment Regular Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC), Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE), Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 26 June 2012.
Gretchen arrived early, but they started even earlier. That’s right, once again the Lowndes County Commission started a meeting before the advertised time. None of the names of prospective appointees to four different boards were listed in the agenda, and many of them didn’t bother to show up. Nor do we know what’s in the budget amendments.
So we have videos starting in the middle of the appointments.
6.a. Valdosta/Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority (VLPRA) Nope, they already discussed that before the announced start time, so there’s no video.
6.d. Appointments to Lowndes County Library Board. If the Library Board has its members listed somewhere online, I can’t find it. Nobody showed up to speak. County Manager Joe Pritchard said Edward Rawls and Rabbi Elbaz(?) asked not to be reappointed, and Kay Harris is asking to be reappointed. (They didn’t mention that Harris is also the chairman of the library board and the editor of the VDT.) Names under consideration are [clatter, bang]. It’s impressive the ways Pritchard finds to be unintelligible even with his microphone adjusted correctly.