Sunshine Week 2012 News

Sunshine WeekSunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public's right to know.

Below, you'll find a list of and links to articles and editorials about and in recognition of Sunshine Week 2012 and the events and observances that are being held in the states.

 


March 20

After Sunshine Week, moving FOIA into the 21st CenturySunshine week may be behind us, but the quest for a more open and accountable government continues. Tomorrow, a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR) subcommittee is set to hold a hearing on moving the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) into the 21st century. In the spirit of that hearing and of exploring solutions for some of the enduring problems in FOIA administration that we wrote about last week, here’s a look at two key policy solutions that would help modernize FOIA administration.

March 19

Sunshine Week shines a light on open government:  Sunshine Week is part of a national initiative to encourage a dialogue about the importance of  transparent government and freedom of information. The Sunshine Laws — which include legislation guaranteeing that government documents and meetings are open to the public, as well as the Freedom of Information Act — ensure that the people’s business is conducted in front of the people, not behind closed doors. Though many of us might take this for granted today, such transparency wasn’t always so.

March 18

Sunshine Week helps shine light on seedy government:  TRENTON – Sunshine Week was made for people like Jim Carlucci to shine a light on the dark underbelly of government. But Sunshine Week is more of a year-round pursuit for the city activist who hawks every step Tony Mack takes as Trenton’s mayor and fine-tooth-combs through every “I” and “t” the beleaguered leader dots and crosses.

Not all willing to let sunshine in:  Each year, Sunshine Week reveals a wealth of information about the activity of municipal officials and how government chooses to spend your tax money. Last week, readers learned how overtime payments boost public employees' pensions; how officials in Nashua use city-issued credit cards; and what retired state judges and Nashua Department of Public Works employees are paid through their pensions.

More shadow than sunshine:  During last week's Sunshine Week, assorted newspaper commentaries and politicians trumpeted support of greater transparency. But, sadly, there's more shadow than sunshine these days in Michigan in the wake of the annual initiative of the American Society of News Editors to encourage dialogue about the value of open government and laws guaranteeing public access to information.

A look at transparency on Sunshine Week:  Pennsylvania took a great leap forward in 2009 when the Right to Know Law went into effect. Suddenly, the presumption was clear: The public should have access to government records unless the government entity can prove otherwise. There were exceptions written into the law, but these were to be minimal. Since then, we have had big victories for open government where meetings, agendas and taxpayer expenditures have to be made public. And then there have been continued struggles.

Many Sunshine Law resources offered for school boards:  CHILLICOTHE -- Whether it's a welcome packet for new members or customized training from the Ohio School Boards Association, school board members in Ross County have a wide array of resources when it comes to learning, or just brushing up on, Sunshine Laws.

March 17

Utah legislators improve their Sunshine GPAs:  At this time last year, Utah was counted among those states turning back the clock on open government. Fast forward to this year’s Sunshine Week and Utah’s GRAMA Watch giving a "Shining Light" Award to Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, praising him for sponsoring ... [a] bill [that] included amendments agreed to by a post-legislative working group to improve the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA).

Clouds in Sunshine Week:  Sunshine Week's cloudy record for law enforcement is nothing new, however. Agencies across the state have thrown up roadblocks that make it more difficult for the public to understand how they operate and what they do.

Tennessee public panels inconsistent on meeting notices:  NASHVILLE — Tennessee has at least 200 boards and commissions that do everything from promoting soybeans to licensing dentists to overseeing the state’s colleges and universities. Almost all of them are required to invite the public to attend their meetings, but the way they do that is inconsistent at best.

During sunshine week, a clouded rush of bills in Albany:  A flurry of legislation late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning was a storm cloud that hung over the process, obscuring the public’s view of the state’s work and calling into question promises of transparency, critics charge.

Sunshine Week comes to an end …:  Today we mark the end of Sunshine Week with a plea to all, in and out of government, to hold fast to those ideals year round. A democratic society can't properly function without them.

N.J.'s grade on openness a C+:  The U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund last week unveiled its findings in a state-by-state survey of online transparency of state government spending, and New Jersey’s ranking was … well, that depends on your perspective. But it would certainly qualify as a mixed bag.

Put a light on the bench:  Sunshine Week ended on Saturday. One quick look around the state leaves us with one question: Can we have an extension, please?  Most of the 1,700 judges in California are, in effect, elected for life. The public needs sunshine on their personal holdings to ensure that their actions on the bench are not influenced by their financial interests.

Mixed bag for county sites:  During the week, the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group released its third annual report that ranks states on how well they provide online access to government spending data. New Jersey got a C-plus — the same grade it got last year — which is much better than the F the state received in 2010.

March 16

FOIA Gallery 2012:  Public access through the FOIA not only allows for a more informed public debate over new surveillance proposals, but also ensures accountability for government officials. Public debate fosters the development of more robust security systems and leads to solutions that better respect the nation's democratic values. EPIC's FOIA litigation activity over the past year has resulted in disclosure of information about several government surveillance programs. The EPIC FOIA Gallery highlights some of the most significant documents we obtained in the past year.

SPJ announces ‘winners’ of Black Hole Award:  INDIANAPOLIS – In honor of Sunshine Week, the Society of Professional Journalists announces the winners of its second annual Black Hole Award, which exposes the most heinous violations of the public's right to know. The SPJ Freedom of Information Committee chose three “winners,” along with several runners-up. The “winners” include the Georgia Legislature, Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and the Wisconsin Legislature.

Tough Sunshine Law ensures government transparency:  In Tennessee, we take pride in the fact that the state's Sunshine Law predates the national Sunshine Week by 31 years. In 1974, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the most comprehensive in the nation to insure that public business is conducting in full public view.

Thanks to the state's FOIA, it's always sunny in Arkansas:  Sunshine Week, a national celebration of the people’s right to know, serves each year as a reminder of how well we are served in this state by the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

FOIAs not just for journalists, anyone can ask for government info:  Think you have to be a member of the media to ask the government for information? Think again. While South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is widely used by media organizations to pry scoops loose from the steely grip of reluctant bureaucrats, private citizens have every right to request info and keep their public officials and institutions on their toes, too.

Freedom of Information Act isn't just for the media:  While Sunshine Week was created by journalists, it’s about the public’s right to know what its government is doing and why. And current trends make it more important than ever for members of the public to use the tools available to them to shine a light on government activity.

Government records can make our lives better:  The federal FOIA reaches into communities across the country when records relate to issues close to home.

Many agencies violate FOIA's 20 day requirement: Between February 3 and 6—over 20 business days ago—POGO submitted 100 FOIA requests for work done by federally contracted consultants. POGO requested a specific written report or briefing produced by contractors hired as consultants to federal agencies as well as the respective statement of work—all from named contracts. POGO submitted the requests to 30 different agencies and departments.

The dismal state of transparency around independent spending in state elections:  Helena, MT – This week, friends of open government celebrate Sunshine Week, a national, nonpartisan initiative that promotes dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. To help the cause, the National Institute on Money in State Politics has released two complementary reports on independent spending on state elections.

Enjoy Sunshine Week? Seriously.:  Western Washington is in desperate need of this kind of sunshine. There are too many examples of what you might call “un-sunshine” or “anti-sunshine” around here – not the least of which is the Seattle Police Department’s ongoing effort to conceal records. Kudos to KOMO for taking them on. Pretty shocking when you consider the hip vibe city administrators want us to buy into. But again, that is but one example.

Sunshine Week approaches sunset:  The First Amendment Center dusts off the old canard that only professional journalists can take the time to examine public records. In fact, with journalists having less and less time to devote to deep dives on data, we’ll be ever more dependent on and grateful to people who take up these causes themselves, a fact reflected by Sunshine Week’s Local Heroes.

Mamaroneck resident a local hero during Sunshine Week:  This week, in honor of “Sunshine Week,” 12-year Mamaroneck resident Suzanne McCrory was recognized as a Local Hero for her efforts to bring transparency to local government in the Village of Mamaroneck (VOM). McCrory—a former Government Accountability Office (GAO) Auditor for 17 years— spent her career as a watchdog for Congress, evaluating Federal programs.

On Sunshine Week, a salute to success:  This week is Sunshine Week, when journalists, educators and others celebrate the value of freedom of information. Each year on these pages, we remind you about the importance of knowing how our government conducts its business. We also remind you how government sometimes resists giving you such access. That’s still true, perhaps more than ever, but at least one public official on one public body seems to understand better than most who his boss is.

March 15

Sunshine Week 2012 Discussion — Secrecy, disclosure and the risks for security and accountability: Join us in person at the Knight Conference Center in the Newseum or via webcast on Friday, March 16 from 1:15 to 3:30 EDT as our panel of experts, including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Top Secret America, Dana Priest, discuss the practice and policy keeping and telling secrets in America.

Accountability requires openness :  The timing was apropos when Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a binding opinion regarding the disclosure of invoices between attorneys and the public bodies they represent. The opinion is dated March 12, which marked the beginning of National Sunshine Week.

Our View: Sunshine Week shines light on heroes of transparency :  Across America, citizens are working hard to make their government more transparent and accountable to the voters. In an effort to recognize these "local heroes," a national initiative, called Sunshine Week, accepts nominations for annual awards to individuals who have played a significant role in fighting for transparency in government.

Sunshine Week: Schools lose bargaining rights, gain new handbooks :  New state laws make it easier for the community to have a say in the benefits school districts intend to extend to workers, from the amount of sick pay teachers receive to the hours they are expected to teach and the number of students who will be in a classroom. Wisconsin lawmakers last summer eliminated most collective bargaining rights for most public workers, which means employmentissues previously debated behind closed doors now must be discussed in open session.

Tough Sunshine Law ensures government transparency :  It's Sunshine Week in America, the one week of the year celebrated by news organizations and open government advocates about keeping government honest. Watchdogs of the Fourth Estate have made it their duty to report on the actions taken by local, state and federal government. And the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, or TCOG, was created to preserve and improve access to public information. To be sure, a large majority of our public servants from elected officials to clerks in the city water department are honest and justifiably proud of the work they perform on our behalf. But it only takes one bad player to give everyone else a bad name.

Citizens vs. Citizens United :  The backlash to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling two years ago continues to mount. Recently, this rag reported on the nascent effort to amend the U.S. Constitution to say that money isn't speech and corporations aren't people. Last week a group of Michigan good-government activists announced plans to try to amend the state Constitution in order to compel disclosure of corporate efforts to influence elections. Backers of the proposed Corporate Accountability Amendment say they have two main goals: The first is to require "instant disclosure” of "corporate-funded political communications and lobbying in Michigan.” The second is to require corporate backers who fund political ads to identify themselves in the same way that candidates now have to.

Report Card on Federal Government’s Efforts to Track and Manage FOIA Request :  As part of a broader effort to conduct oversight over FOIA to help improve government transparency, on January 25, 2011, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa sent a letter to 180 entities representing 100 government agencies requesting information about their FOIA tracking systems.
The ability and willingness of agencies to submit this information (or lack thereof) served as the basis of an objective evaluation by committee staff of agency FOIA management. While high grades do not necessarily mean that agencies are providing thorough, timely, and appropriate responses to individual FOIA requestors, they do indicate a willingness and ability by an agency FOIA office to show accountability and transparency in the management of requests.

Sunshine Week Local Hero Fights for Sunshine in Florida :  Joel Chandler of Lakeland, Fla., who has sued dozens of state and local government agencies over their failure to honor the state’s open records law, is the 2012 Sunshine Week Local Hero. Chandler began litigating violations of Florida’s public records four years ago, when his local school board refused a records request. Since then, he has filed more than two dozen open records lawsuits, securing the release of school, police, prison and medical examiner records.

Sunshine Week: EFF's FOIA Work Shines Light on Government Activities in 2011 :  As Sunshine Week rolls on, we wanted to highlight EFF’s transparency work over the past year. In an era of excessive government secrecy, the FOIA process is becoming increasingly vital to both keeping the public informed and holding the government accountable. During the past year, EFF’s FOIA team filed over 30 different FOIA requests, to dozens of federal agencies, seeking information on the government's use of technology and its effect on civil liberties. When the government doesn't respond to our requests, we are sometimes forced to file suit: in 2011, we filed three new lawsuits, and are currently litigating four others, stemming from the government's failure to release the records we've requested.

How easily can you access police crime reports?:  Politeness might prevent you from asking your neighbors why a half-dozen police cars pulled up in front of their house the other night, but that doesn’t make your curiosity go away. For a while, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police made it easy to find out. You could go online and look up what the police called the “significant event log.” The department started the log in 2007, under Chief Darrel Stephens. It gave a nearly real-time look at some of the bigger police events – rapes and robberies and homicides – but also large traffic accidents or trouble at local schools.
But, in 2009, the log abruptly disappeared from the police department’s website.

March 14

Sunshine Missing in Imperial Beach Government: City Lacks Meeting Videos Online:  In honor of Sunshine Week, which seeks to increase government transparency, Imperial Beach Patch again looked into the city of Imperial Beach's online presence. For Sunshine Week last year, IB Patch performed a brief analysis of the city's website. It was found to be outdated and in some areas inadequate. 

Sunshine Week legislation passed:  Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New City) announced the passage of the seventh annual Sunshine Week legislative package. The legislation calls for more openness in state government. Its purpose is to alert citizens to the importance of public participation and transparency in government.

SUNSHINE WEEK INTERVIEW: Michael Lemov Talks Presidents and FOIA :  It would be difficult to have Sunshine Week without the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Journalists and the public rely so heavily on FOIA to gain insight into government doings; it is easy to forget that up until 1966, the Act didn't even exist. Thankfully, it does—and one of the men we have to thank for that is former Democratic congressman John Moss from California, a good government champion who passed away in 1997. Michael R. Lemov, an attorney in Bethesda, Maryland who specializes in federal regulatory issues, worked closely with Moss to tell the story of his hard-fought struggle to get FOIA passed.

D.C. Judge Says Credibility of Police Sworn Statements "Smashed to Smithereens" : D.C.—A Superior Court Judge in the District of Columbia slammed the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) for submitting “transparently false” affidavits in an unsuccessful effort to defeat a lawsuit brought by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) that demands that the MPD disclose its orders and policies.

McCaskill Returns Millions From Office Budget, Calls on Colleagues to Follow Her Lead :  WASHINGTON—Telling her colleagues that they should lead by example, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill-who, beginning her first year in office has returned more than ten percent of her budget every year-today is calling on Congress to pass legislation she backs that would require all unused Congressional office funding returned go towards deficit reduction. As part of her broader effort to "clean up Congress" and strengthen accountability and transparency in government, McCaskill is honoring Sunshine Week by calling on her colleagues each day to commit to a specific step toward these goals.

Public trust requires open government:  Even when witnessed through a clear window, the operations of government can be complicated and controversial. How often have you heard someone say — or said yourself — "government can't be trusted?" Amid that cloud of mistrust, imagine how much darker the public perception would be if government routinely operated behind closed doors.

It's time to celebrate open government:  By most measures, advocates of openness in government are making progress. While challenges are frequent and vigilance is imperative to maintain openness, the reality is that government is more open than at any time in history ... This year we can report that, unlike in some recent years, the Legislature’s just-ended session was good for open government on balance.

Open government, a focus of Sunshine Week:  Something is wrong. I see it nearly every day in my representation of reporters throughout California. Local and state agencies are throwing up excuse after excuse when responding to requests for public records and are unapologetically meeting behind closed doors, chancing that the denial of access will go unchallenged or that a reporter’s resolve will fade with sufficient delay in responding to the request.

Reminding lawmakers to keep public's business in public:  When Frances Holland, a resident of West Orange, read about an Open Space Committee in the town newsletter, she decided to attend its next meeting as a concerned citizen. But when she showed up, the Open Space Committee showed her the door ... [W]hat better way to recognize Sunshine Week than to support a measure to update the Sunshine Law to bring citizen access to government meetings into the 21st century.

Sunshine Week clouded by withheld records:  The Outer Banks Sentinel's requests for court documents, emails and letters related to failed attempts to remove Kill Devil Hills Police Chief Gary Britt and District Attorney Frank Parrish from their respective offices have been rebuffed by Resident Superior Court Judge Jerry Tillett through his attorney.

Sunshine Week shines a light on importance of public records:  [E]ven those of us with anxiety about numbers have come to embrace the investigative value of data. Number crunching and access to public records drive some of the news media’s most powerful and important reporting, including these examples from the past year...

March 13

It has been a disturbing year for open government in S.C.:  It's Sunshine Week, a week to promote open government. Since you are reading an editorial column in this newspaper, you likely care about what is going on in your community and with your government ... Let me encourage you to also care about open, transparent government on the local and state levels. Without open government, you don't know how your tax dollars are spent, how your public bodies make decisions, or if our laws are being enforced efficiently and with equality.

Open, government, and let Sunshine in:  This is Sunshine Week, an annual reminder of the importance of open government to our democracy. Regular readers of this page know that there is no drum we beat more consistently than the need for transparency by public officials. Openness is law — and the only recipe for credibility and trust in government.

Sunshine Week renews debate on Obama and FOIA:  At the Justice Department alone, officials released records requested through Freedom of Information Act requests either in full or in part 94.5 percent of the time, according to department figures. DOJ also reduced the backlog of pending FOIA requests by 26 percent in the past three years and pending administrative appeals by 41 percent. It also has launched FOIA.gov, meant to serve as a clearinghouse to track requests. But government-wide, the data are troubling, according to outside observers.

New NFOIC #OpenGovVideos — Leonard Downie: New #OpenGovVideos interview features Len Downie, who speaks about his history with open government during his 44 years in the Washington Post newsroom.

Massachusetts announces "Open Checkbook" launch:  Boston — In a display of unprecedented commitment to government transparency, State Treasurer Steven Grossman, Administration & Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez, and Comptroller Martin J. Benison announced today the unveiling of the Massachusetts Open Checkbook. The user friendly website, which can be found at www.mass.gov/opencheckbook, represents a collaborative effort across state government to post the Commonwealth’s expenses online.

Making a mockery of Sunshine Week:  Virginia — The Richmond Times-Dispatch comments on transparency in Virginia, "The news dismayed, but its timing proved pregnant with symbolism. On the eve of Sunshine Week, Virginians learned that a study of uranium mining in Pittsylvania County will not be as transparent as it should be. According to a news story by The Times-Dispatch's Rex Springston, the group of state officials involved 'will hold no public meetings and will keep many of its papers secret.' This is not good."

JOURNALISTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF FEDERAL PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER MEDIA CONTROL (PDF from SPJ):  On the eve of Sunshine Week 2012, a survey of journalists who cover federal agencies found that information flow in the United States is highly regulated by public affairs officers, to the point where most reporters considered the control to be a form of censorship and an impediment to providing information to the public. According to a survey of 146 reporters who cover federal agencies, conducted by the Society of Professional Journalists in February 2012, journalists indicated that public information officers often require pre-approval for interviews, prohibit interviews of agency employees, and often monitor interviews. Journalists overwhelmingly agreed with the statement that “the public was not getting all the information it needs because of barriers agencies are imposing on journalists’ reporting practices."

NSA refuses to disclose its links with Google:  Wondering if the US government’s shadowy security agents are working behind the scenes with the biggest entity on the Internet? Don’t hold your breath waiting — one advocacy group has to take Uncle Sam to court for an answer.

Sunshine Week brings out stats on government transparency:  Springfield, Ill. — In recognition of Sunshine Week, Attorney General Lisa Madigan yesterday released details of the more than 5,100 matters before her office’s Public Access Bureau in 2011. The Public Access Bureau upholds the state’s Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act, helping to foster transparency and openness in Illinois government.

Sunshine Week in NY Senate gets cloudy:  On a day the Senate is expected to pass a resolution commemorating "Sunshine Week", Sen. Daniel Squadron is complaining the GOP majority put the kibosh on 14 of his bills. Squadron (D-Manhattan) filed a motion for committee consideration on 14 bills that would require committee debate on the legislation today. The bills were on the agenda of various committees until they were suddenly shifted to the Rules Committee controlled by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Balancing security and open government in the cyber age, from guest columnist Sen. Patrick Leahy:  Of course government secrecy has its place. There are real and intensifying threats to critical infrastructure and other sensitive government information. But governments will always be tempted to overuse the secrecy stamp. When that happens, secrecy can come at an unacceptable price, harming citizens’ interest in safety, health and a clean environment.

March 12

NFOIC executive director testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee:  Kenneth F. Bunting, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC), is scheduled to appear before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary on the morning of Tuesday, March 13. The hearing, entitled "The Freedom of Information Act: Safeguarding Critical Infrastructure Information and the Public's Right to Know," is to convene at 10:30 a.m. in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, and dovetails with many events occurring in the District of Columbia and nationwide in recognition of Sunshine Week.

Wisconsin Circuit Court Access system withstands challenges:  Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, the public's online access to court records in the state, has survived several attempts on its life through the years but remains in constant jeopardy, the president of a watchdog group says. "It has probably occupied more of my attention through the years than any other single issue," said Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. "The system is a target of concern and attack."

Wisconsin knows who has concealed carry permits, but you can't find out:  GREEN BAY — The state Department of Justice keeps lists of people who have concealed carry permits, but people can't access them. There are differing opinions on whether that's a good thing.

State boards spotty on public meeting notices:  NASHVILLE — Tennessee has at least 200 boards and commissions that do everything from promoting soybeans to licensing dentists to overseeing the state’s colleges and universities. Almost all of them are required to invite the public to attend their meetings, but the way they do that is inconsistent at best.

Massachusetts 'Open Checkbook' initiative demystifies state spending:  Ever wonder how the state spends your tax dollars? A new initiative in transparency now allows the curious to open the state’s “checkbook” online and take a look for themselves. Launched by State Treasurer Steven Grossman and other state officials late last year, the Massachusetts Open Checkbook website provides a searchable database that details such aspects of state spending as payroll and pension information and payment details for over 50,800 vendors.

Many police reports available to public:  Sunshine Laws may seem more important to a newspaper reporter than they would be to the average citizen — until the average citizen wants to know what happened at a crime scene or a crash. Or until the incident labels the person a “victim.”

Spending watch efforts move forward:  MADISON — Wisconsin residents have waited a long time to get a good look at the state's checkbook. They're going to be waiting longer. Nearly six years after legislators passed a law aimed at increasing transparency of government spending by posting contract information online, the effort remains flawed.

Florida man who fought for dozens of government records wins the 2012 Local Hero Award:  Joel Chandler, a Lakeland, Fla., man who has sued dozens of state and local government agencies over their failure to honor the state’s open records law, is the winner of the 2012 Sunshine Week Local Hero Award.

LCL observing Sunshine Week with IDA requests:  Linn County, Mo. — Sunshine Week is a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. It’s about the public’s right to know what its government is doing, and why.

Missouri auditor's report finds Sunshine violations:  JEFFERSON CITY — Just in time for Sunshine Week, state auditor Tom Schweich has released a report today that shows state and local bodies routinely violate Missouri’s Sunshine Law. In the 21-page report, Schweich's office provides nearly 20 recommendations for governing bodies to better comply with state law on open meetings and public records.

Fla. public access celebrated during Sunshine Week:  ORLANDO, Fla. — Advocates of Florida's open government laws should focus on the rights of speakers to have their voices heard at public meetings and push to open up the state's process of making laws to further scrutiny, one of the state's top defenders of government transparency said Monday.

Sunshine Week promotes knowledge about open government, access to information:  COLUMBIA — Closed public meetings were the biggest source of violations to Missouri's Sunshine Law over the past two years, according to a report by State Auditor Tom Schweich.

The 2011 award for worst transparency goes to the DOJ:  According to George Washington University's National Security Archive, the Justice Department won the Rosemary Award for "Worst Open Government Performance in 2011." The National Security Archive cited, "selective leaks prosecutions, business-as-usual secrecy arguments in litigation, and retrograde information regulations. Justice's actions contradict Obama pledges for open government, help explain performance gap between excellent policy and 'same-old' practice. Individual 'dubious achievement' awards go to three career DoJ lawyers; Crowded field of award nominees includes contenders from CIA, DHS, Central Command."

Ca. Senate kicks off Sunshine Week by honoring lawmaker responsible for open-meetings law:  SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers are kicking off Sunshine Week by honoring the author of the state's main open-meetings law.

Fees for public documents -- from dimes to dollars:  What does it cost for you to copy a piece of paper? Probably a few pennies if you do it yourself, or 10 cents a page if you go to a commercial-copying business. If you ask the government in Nevada for a copy, though, you might get it for free — or you might pay as much as $2 a page.

March 11

Sunshine Week Open Government Proclamation:  To mark Sunshine Week 2012, we urge citizens and civic organizations across the country to again press state and local officials to find meaningful ways to participate in Sunshine Week to demonstrate that they, too, are committed to true transparency in government.