It’s Sunshine Week; the week when our nation celebrates the importance of transparency and open government.
It’s good to see people on all sides of the political spectrum come together and underscore our right to public information. The Declaration of Independence says our government was formed to secure and protect individual rights. And, the “just powers of the government derive from the consent of the governed.” Educated and informed citizens are prerequisites for good government and transparency is one of the best ways to ensure this end.
The North Carolina General Assembly has written transparency into public policy when it declared that public records and public information compiled by state agencies of North Carolina government – or its subdivisions are the property of the people.
What is a public record? Chapter 132 of the state statutes spells out what is and isn’t a public record. For those of us interested in such topics, the chapter, makes for some interesting reading. If you’d rather not, you can get a thumbnail review of public records here.
This week we take time to celebrate the need for transparency. Transparency and access to public records are tools that help citizens keep our government accountable. Whether you’ve filed hundreds of public records requests or haven’t filed any, it’s good to be aware of our rights and responsibilities to ensure good government. As Justice Louis Brandeis once famously wrote — and we all know to be true, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”
Find out more about Sunshine Week activities in North Carolina here.