Letting the sun shine in

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The sun fights off darkness in many far-reaching corners of the Earth and can be used to power many things.

Engineers convert the sun&8217;s rays into energy and even students utilize them to darken tans on Spring Break.

We, as journalists and citizens, might also employ the sun&8217;s powers to shine a light on the dark corners of meeting rooms and public documents.

This week is National Sunshine Week &8212; a week that calls to our attention the importance of open and transparent government.

Citizens elect mayors, city council members, legislators and other public officials with the authority to make decisions as representatives of the public. This does not, however, give them the right to rule over the public without any transparency into their actions.

Too many times it is made too difficult for a citizen to gain access to land transactions, to sit in on a city council work session or know the details of a council resolution.

No council meeting should be held behind closed doors. If you find one that is, do not be afraid to ask to be let

in. It is your right, as a citizen, to know what takes place in those meetings.

The only way to keep officials accountable for their actions is to shine the light on them. That is the premise behind Sunshine Week &8212; people should feel empowered to play an active role in their local government so that they might be informed about how officials spend their tax dollars.

Putting pressure on officials to keep their actions out in the open forces them to, maybe, keep their finger on the pulse of the public a little better.

Visit a city meeting or request a copy of zoning board minutes, then go sit in the sunshine and soak in the information.