Some of them, like John and Gretchen Quarterman, serve as watchdogs
for the government. These watchdogs attend the open, public meetings
held by governing bodies, acquire the documents and records of these
meetings and other governmental affairs, and serve to make sure our
local governments behave like they should.
The Quartermans run the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE), a
repository of Continue reading →
Yay open government symposium!
But why in Macon, why not in Valdosta,
if it’s organized by the new VDT editor?
Sure, Macon is the geographic center of the state, but it’s only
about an hour from Atlanta, and one thing most people in Atlanta don’t
understand is how big Georgia is, so asking them to drive four hours
to Valdosta would be educational for them.
And if the VDT is so interested in government transparency,
why doesn’t it investigate the county’s lawsuit against local business Deep South Sanitation
at the expense of the local taxpayers that benefits nobody but
“exclusive franchise” ADS and its investors in New York City?
Why is the VDT’s front page story that gave a platform for
Spectra’s Andrea Grover no longer online, especially now that
the Sabal Trail deadline she announced has been busted?
Let’s see the VDT lead the way.
Here’s a first test:
Gretchen is going to Macon with the LAKE video camera.
Will the VDT let her video?
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.
Yesterday morning’s County Commission Work Session
started on time!
In addition to the open records and open meetings items,
it included a report from KLVB, two rezonings, typo fixes and date changes
in the ULDC, a vanity road name change, an alcohol license and an
alcohol ordinance change, a USGS river gauge, surplus vehicles,
purchase of a new fire truck, and more!
They vote on all this tonight at their Regular Session, 5:30 PM.
“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.”
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
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.
by not warning Jennifer Jones before removing her on 28 June 2011;
by holding a Council meeting on 10 July 2011
in which they excluded the public by actually locking the doors of their
by failing to post minutes of the emergency meeting on
as required by Arizona Law (yes, Arizona law,
like Texas law, requires
posting minutes on the web)
and by not including a required statement of the emergency requiring
and by failing to post withing the required three working days
minutes for the 10 July 2011 emergency meeting,
nor for seven of its work sessions, nor for its 14 June 2011 regular session.
This one wasn’t a violation, but may be at least as important:
The purpose of the OML is to require public bodies to meet publicly
and openly so that al persons so desiring may attend and listen to the
deliberations and proceedings.