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When citizens recently had trouble squeezing public documents out of City Hall, this newspaper thought it'd be a good idea to have a public conversation about transparency in government -- in particular with regard to what the law requires.

Other local news media instantly agreed, and joined The Chronicle in presenting it.

That discussion will be at 7 p.m. Monday at the Richmond County Board of Education auditorium at 9th and Broad Street downtown. It's free and open to anyone. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

We hope plenty of city employees come, and would argue that it's in their interest as well as the public's. Being unaware or inattentive to open meetings and records laws can, and invariably does, cost a local government in the long run -- in inefficiencies, lawsuits and more.

In addition, the cost to the public of a recalcitrant local government cannot be calculated. Defiant clerks and other record holders wrongfully delay the production of records, sometimes charge exorbitant fees -- and, worst of all, tamp down the fragile zeal citizens have for participating in their government, which is a precious American birthright that should never be withheld or negotiated away.

We would invite all local government employees to attend this forum on their own time if need be. It will be a good investment of that time, both as government employees and as citizens.

We urge everyone else to attend as well. Know your rights, and become more familiar with the responsibilities of government -- so that you can detect when either your rights (and the law) are being violated or the responsibilities of our friends in government are being shirked.

Comments (9) Add comment
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HillGuy
7
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HillGuy 09/19/09 - 02:35 am
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Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 09/19/09 - 03:47 am
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See you there Monday,

See you there Monday, Michael.

WhippingPost
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WhippingPost 09/19/09 - 04:57 am
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The real power of government

The real power of government is handing out exemptions from restrictive laws and taxes for entities wishing to invest in the area. It's difficult to do this, and make a little "sumpin-sumpin" on the side, if there's too much sunshine. Will the open forum show the way to get around this situation?

Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/19/09 - 07:17 am
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Nice try, but county

Nice try, but county employees are not about to show up on their own time. At the meeting, I dare you to ask county employees to raise their hands. There won't be any.

willienelson
5
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willienelson 09/19/09 - 09:33 am
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WOW!! How bad are things in

WOW!! How bad are things in Auguta?

mad_max
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mad_max 09/19/09 - 10:14 am
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When a local government

When a local government resists public scrutiny like our local government does, it is for a couple of reasons. They are either doing something illegal, they have done something incompetent, or they have done something that is clearly favoring a contributor, business associate, or racial group. EVERYTHING our local government does involves ALL of these things. With the sunshine of public scrutiny most of our commissioners and department heads, particularly the contracting and legal departments, would wither up and die from the heat.

corgimom
34193
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corgimom 09/19/09 - 10:17 am
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"Defiant clerks and other

"Defiant clerks and other record holders wrongfully delay the production of records"- defiant? How about people who are afraid of losing their jobs?

jack
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jack 09/19/09 - 11:26 am
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As I have said before, the

As I have said before, the County should do as the feds do and appoint ONE (or two) people trained in the open records/FOIA laws to handle these requests. They would be the "experts" on what is and isn't covered by the law and County employees would not be able to stall or refuse such requests if this procedure were followed (or lose thier jobs). Step one is firing the incompetent Chaquita the Banana(Republic) government attorney.

justus4
107
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justus4 09/19/09 - 03:09 pm
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What about corperations? How
Unpublished

What about corperations? How can the government be open when corperations run the country? This is fools gold because what these guys want is a "gotcha" moment-and try getting some real numbers from private businesses. HA! Again, what complete joke...

UncleBill
6
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UncleBill 09/19/09 - 11:58 pm
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This sounds like an

This sounds like an interesting meeting if it disseminates information regarding the rules. Unfortunately it is unlikely that I will be able to attend due to scheduling conflict. How about publishing some "how to get information" articles in the newspaper?

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