North Carolina’s open government laws are good. But enforcement is weak.
A Republican state senator from Wilmington is trying to add muscle, proposing a bill to make it a misdemeanor for public officials to unlawfully close meetings or deny access to records.
From Port City Daily:
The state’s Open Meetings Law requires boards that “exist solely to conduct the people’s business,” do so openly—including hearings, deliberations and actions.
In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be a need for “Sunshine Week,” which celebrates the right of the people to watch their government in action. That includes free access to meetings and documents that discuss the public’s business. An accessible government is a keystone of our democracy.
Saying government employees and bureaucrats can “break the law with impunity” when it comes the state’s open meetings and public records laws, Sen. Thom Goolsby, a Wilmington Republican and trial attorney, wants to give the law some teeth.
And by teeth he means up to 20 days in jail.
RALEIGH The new legislative and congressional districts drawn in 2011 by the Republican-led legislature are clear, but the process that produced them was clouded by closed-door politics, some contend.
From Hickory Daily Record:
The Hickory City Council meeting on Tuesday was an exercise in open government. A Hickory resident took advantage of a statement on the agenda to force discussion on an issue, and the state’s open records law was illuminated for all to hear.