Sunshine Week, launched by the American Society of News Editors in 2005, is a national initiative to promote open government and freedom of information. It’s a time to “shine the light” on government business and to bring to the forefront the public’s right to know what its government is up to.
Weston’s boards and commissions are fairly good about following the state’s extensive Freedom of Information (FOI) laws. They almost always post notices and agendas before meetings and allow the public to attend if they so choose. They are learning (some learning better than others) not to conduct business by email and to only meet in “executive session” when allowed by law.
Town officials are also pretty good about conducting the town’s business in the public eye. And, if a member of the public misses something that happened and asks about it, chances are very good that information will be furnished without too much red tape or fuss.
But Sunshine Week should also serve as a reminder to citizens everywhere that “freedom of information” does not mean information must fall in one’s lap — citizens not only have the right to seek information, but also the responsibility to do so, to make an effort to be informed.
As Americans, we are so lucky to have the freedom to participate in our government and to hold accountable those who make the decisions that affect our lives. Perhaps Sunshine Week can serve as an inspiration to re-commit ourselves to doing just that.