Georgia Supreme Court Justices and the state’s top law enforcement official are trying to send a message about the importance of open government.
This week, the High Court ordered the city of Statesboro to pay the legal fees for a group that sued the city for violating the state’s Open Meetings Act by planning the city budget in secret. Georgia’s Attorney General wants to put more teeth into that law. He talked to us last week about his push for much stiffer fines for agencies and individuals who violate open meetings and records laws.
We say it’s about time. We fight constant battles with law enforcement agencies that don’t want to release information about their investigations that by law is public information. The most recent example: Moultrie police and the GBI still haven’t told us the name of an officer who shot and killed a suspect during a SWAT standoff more than a week ago.
Local government boards usually aren’t as blatant as the Statesboro City Council, but they often reduce public debate by discussing issues privately or by having closed executive sessions to discuss issues that should be decided in public.
Your tax money funds those agencies. You have a right to know what they’re up to. We’re glad some people at the top of state government believe in that right, and we hope our local elected officials and law enforcers are paying attention.
Rachel Scott’s legacy benefitting Albany
Rachel Scott was the first person killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Her acts of kindness and compassion coupled with the contents of her six diaries have become the foundation for one of the most life-changing school programs in America.
Phoebe Putney brought Rachel’s Challenge to Albany. With the help of our community partners, the Albany Chamber of Commerce and the Dougherty County School system, introduced it to the community and the schools. Rachel’s father and then her brother, who was also at Columbine that day, made moving presentations to schools and in the community.
We would like to thank Phoebe and our community partners for sponsoring this event in public and private schools, where more than 10,000 people were impacted by a powerful presentation of Rachel’s hope to bring kindness and stop the bullying.
Written by Jim Wilcox, general manager of WALB.