Sunshine Week Round up: A look at state-based events

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Next week, the nation will be celebrating the 7th annual Sunshine Week. Started by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and supported through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami, Sunshine Week was a response to a growing need to create public awareness of a trend that was damaging democracy by keeping public information secret from citizens. As part of this celebration of open government, Sunlight’s Policy Counsel, Daniel Shuman, will be moderating an Advisory Committee on Transparency in an event dubbed “Washington Lobbying Fix. We also rounded up a few events happening at the state and local level for Sunshine Week…

CALIFORNIA: The Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NOCALL) and the League of Women Voters will be holding an event on March 23 to mark Sunshine Week at McGeorge School of Law. The event, which will happen just after the official national Sunshine Week (March 13-19), will give residents a chance to view the webcast from the national event while allowing them to participate in a panel discussion on open government.

MISSOURI: The Missouri Sunshine Coalition have partnered with Open Missouri to host an annual meeting and Sunshine Week celebration at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, Missouri on March 17. The event will also include an annual board election, a report on the Coalition’s statewide records audit and a presentation of the coalition’s nominees for Sunshine Hero awards. Our very own Editorial Director Bill Allison will be delivering a key note address about how journalists can tap into government data. Interested participants are encouraged to register here

VIRGINIA: The Virginia Coalition for Open Government, a non-profit “alliance formed to promote expanded access togovernment records, meetings and other proceedings at the state and local level” have created an audio public announcement and is encouraging the public to download it as anawareness campaign for the public’s right to know.

ILLINOIS: In Illinois, the Peoria Journal Star asked their readers to send in stories of how the revised Freedom of Information Act law has affected them in dealing with governmental entities. As a way of observing Sunshine Week, the stories will be published on pjstar.com while some may be published in the Journal Star.

OKLAHOMA: Freedom of Information Oklahoma will be hosting its fourth annual conference for sunshine week on March 12. Dubbed “Putting Muscle Behind Oklahoma’s FOI Laws,” the day long event includes a training for the public on how to use public records and a discussion on bills that require the legislature to comply with FOI laws. Open government guru Robert Freeman is the key note speaker.

NORTH CAROLINA: The city of Cary, North Carolina is providing educational opportunities for staff and elected officials as a way of increasing awareness of “Sunshine laws” during Sunshine Week. The city has also updated its website to help citizens access public records and answer queries on how to submit public records requests. In addition, an audio message from the city’s mayor Harold Weinbrecht has been uploaded to the website to show the progress the city is making in open government.

NEW YORK: The Town of Wappinger in Duchess County, New York will be hosting an open government seminar on March 15 with Robert Freeman of the New York Senate Open Government Committee as speaker. Town Clerk Chris Masterson will be on hand to help interested participants to register and submit their questions to Freeman. The town’s website has more.

ARIZONA: The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix, Arizona has organized a fun and informative way of opening government: a public records scavenger hunt. The school is inviting journalism students to take part in a hunt for public records and you can read more about it here.

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