November 06, 2006

Let the Sunshine In!

When it comes to corporate accountability and ensuring that the public is informed of corporate negotiations advocates have long claimed that sunshine is the best disinfectant. The Times (Gainesville, GA) writes a very compelling opinion piece that describes why corporations and state and local governments shouldn’t be able to make deals behind closed doors far from the state’s open records law.

Georgia’s Sunshine law provides for public knowledge through both open records and open meetings.

“Georgia’s Open Records Law provides the public with broad access to governmental records and documents. The public has a right to see, inspect and copy all public records….Georgia’s Open Meetings Law requires that state and local governmental bodies conduct their business so citizens can review and monitor their elected officials and others working on their behalf. The Law requires that government meetings be open to the public. The Law also requires governmental bodies to provide reasonable notice of all meetings.”

Some business leaders in the state fear these sunshine laws. They say that keeping business practices confidential is more important than public disclosure. Yet clearly the state has been able to attract businesses and factories even with the sunshine laws in place.

Sunshine laws are an important tool in the public disclosure toolbox. The public has the right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. For more on this basic component of accountable development check out this reform fact sheet from Good Jobs First.


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