Editorial: Sunshine Week

Freedom of Information requests don’t exactly flow into town hall — Town Clerk Bettye Ragognetti said in 2013 there was only one FOI complaint and a small number of requests — but they do come in. The school district could not tell The Bulletin by press time how many it averages each year.

A Freedom of Information request includes a description of the information being sought and the format in which the requester would like it provided.

The requests are used to obtain information from the government under the Freedom of Information Act.

According to FOIA.gov, the Freedom of Information Act is “often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.”

It is more than citizens asking their government for information; it is about information flowing the other way, from the government to the public. On this front Wilton does a good job. The agendas and minutes of meetings of municipal boards, committees and commissions are posted on the town website, wiltonct.org. Some groups do a better job than others getting minutes up in a timely fashion, but they eventually appear.

Likewise, minutes of the Board of Education appear on the district website wilton.k12.ct.us.

Since 2005, the American Society of News Editors has coordinated Sunshine Week, a nationwide discussion in mid-March that promotes the importance of open government and freedom of information.

Sunshine Week 2014 began Sunday, March 16, and continues through Saturday, March 22.

The non-partisan, non-profit initiative seeks to inform, empower and encourage people to play an active role in their government.

The week-long celebration focuses not only on the public’s right to know what its government is up to, but also on helping people better their lives and strengthen their communities through the access of information.

Sunshine Week participants include individuals and groups interested in open government and the public’s right to know, including:

• News media;

• Government officials;

• Schools and universities;

• Libraries and archives;

• Nonprofit and civic organizations;

• Historians.

Whether it be participating in a large or small public forum or writing an article about public access to information, Sunshine Week participants are encouraged to engage in discussion and inform others of the importance of open government.

If you are shedding a little light on a subject, consider sharing it via email: sunshineweek@asne.org.

Information: sunshineweek.org.