Sunshine Week spotlights transparency, public’s right to know

Craig Daily Press: Government both represents and is funded by citizens and taxpayers, which is why government records belong to the public.

This week is national Sunshine Week — named not for the sunny weather Northwest Coloradans have been enjoying this week, but for the public’s right to know what happens within the government bodies that work on behalf of citizens.

“It’s to be sure we can follow what government is doing with your money,” said Jerry Raehal, CEO of Colorado Press Association. “If we don’t have sunshine laws, we’re running rough-shod and there’s no accountability as to what government is doing.”

In light of the current political climate and recent waves of distrust in the news media, educating people about sunshine laws is more important than ever, said Jeff Roberts, executive director for the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.

“Records are a great way to combat alternative facts. If you want to get closer to the truth, especially about what your government is up to or some institution is up to, see what the records say, don’t just rely on what people say about it,” Roberts said. “They’re not just for journalists, they’re for anybody.”

The Colorado Sunshine Law, also known as Open Meetings Law, sets ground rules to ensure state and local governing bodies — from school boards to city councils — maintain transparency in their meeting practices and procedures.

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