Letter to the Editor January 18
With the passing of a national holiday celebrating what would have been the 88th birthday of our most recognized civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., I am remind of one of his most inspiring quotes: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.
This week also marked the deadline to file for the April 4, 2017 general municipal election. Many township boards have openings for this election. I commend all without personal agendas that have served before, and all that wish to serve our communities. Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient.
As we progress towards Election Day, we also need to remember the history of THE SUNSHINE LAW. This law brings transparency and fairness to all aspects of government. The Missouri Sunshine Law was introduced and passed in 1973. Missouri’s commitment to openness in government is clearly stated in Chapter 610, RSMo. It is the public policy of this state that meetings, minutes, records, votes, actions and deliberations be open to the public. Public meetings, including meetings conducted by telephone, internet or other electronic means, are to be announced in advance, held at reasonably convenient times and must be accessible to the public. Meetings should be held in facilities that are large enough to accommodate anticipated attendance by the public and accessible to persons with disabilities.
Times have changed! We live in a world where public servants are no longer excused for ignorance, and replies like “We have always done it this way” are not justification. Through sunshine laws, public officials are required to document assembly and communications, record meetings, and do their work in public. The result of this process is sometimes called “GOVERNMENT IN THE SUNSHINE”. I like that description!
Missouri Sunshine Law booklets are available to the public through the office of Attorney General for the State of Missouri. Call 1-573-751-3321. Free training is also available.