A www.columbianewsandviews.com reader sent this newspaper clipping (below) to us.
At the March borough council meeting (March 14), the mayor rebuked those who write “online blogs” who do not “get the facts” and post unsubstantiated rumors as truth before posting purported information. Since this news source came alive, our efforts continue to post “fact-based” writings. We do scrutinize the information or comment submitted by every unidentified email, comment, call or letter that comes in. Then, to the best of our capability, try to do the diligence process to discover the documented, black and white supporting evidence to reveal facts as they exist. We will cite official sources and obtain and publish public right-to-know documents. Citizens deserve to see the truth of documentation, and that is something we intend to deliver.
misinformation is disinformation
Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act gives the public (not just property owners or those seemingly most directly impacted, immediately or potentially) the right to attend the meetings of a large number of government bodies at the state and local level in Pennsylvania. The law also entitles you to notice of these meetings and gives you the ability to inspect and copy meeting minutes. The Governor’s single-point Website provides information such as this, the Open Meetings Guide – The Sunshine Act.
“The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act covers all legislative and executive ‘agencies’ at the state and local level. The term ‘agency,’ which is defined at 65 Pa. Cons. Stat. Section 703, applies to multi-member bodies that perform an essential governmental function, exercise governmental authority, and take official action through the joint action of their members. This includes the Pennsylvania General Assembly and its committees, state agencies in the executive branch, political subdivisions (including all their constituent boards and commissions), and municipal authorities (such as city councils). The statute defines a ‘political subdivision’ as ‘[a]ny county, city, borough, incorporated town, township, school district, intermediate unit, vocational school district or county institution district.’ In addition, the term ‘agency’ includes school boards and the boards of public colleges and universities. Finally, the term also applies to committees created by the above-described agencies that are authorized to take official action or render advice on matters of agency business.”
“Under the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, a gathering must have three characteristics in order to count as a ‘meeting.’ First, the meeting must be prearranged. Second, a quorum of agency members must attend. The term ‘quorum’ just means a simple majority of agency members. For example, if a school board has nine members, then five members would be required for a ‘meeting’ to take place. If the school board created a finance committee with five members, then three members of the finance committee would be required for a ‘meeting’ of the finance committee to take place. Third, the purpose of the gathering must be to discuss or deliberate on agency business or take official action. The phrase ‘official action’ means establishing agency policy, making a decision on a matter of agency business, and voting on any motion, proposal, resolution, regulation, ordinance, report or order.” The above two paragraphs have been extracted from the Open Meetings Laws in Pennsylvania page at the Citizens Media Law Project Website.
This reference is a quick reference for cititens wanting to know the basic rights under the PA Sunshine Act: Citizen’s Guide to the Sunshine Act Weidner University Law School .