Did you know that March 11th – 17th is National Sunshine Week?
But not here in Little Falls.
During the Town Council workshop meeting on Monday, March 12th there was no mention of the proclamation that commemorates the annual Sunshine Week event (see sample Proclamation below).
However, it’s worth noting that back on March 14, 2016, then Councilperson James Damiano read a Sunshine Week Open Government Proclamation into the public record during the Council’s workshop meeting. However, now as Mayor he did not take the opportunity to do so this year.
The issuance of a Sunshine Week proclamation would have been a public reaffirmation of the township’s commitment to enhancing the public’s access to government records and information, to increase the information provided electronically and online, and to ensure that all meetings of deliberative bodies under its jurisdiction, and their committees, are fully noticed and open to the public.
During Sunshine Week, and throughout the year, residents can make a difference by identifying local open government shortcomings and then ask our public officials to pledge and initiate specific improvements in local laws, ordinances, policies, procedures and practices.
It is essential for Little Falls residents to encourage our elected officials to do more, seeking not just broad statements of support for greater transparency but specific pledges and plans of action to enhance the public’s right to know and to ensure resident involvement/participation.
In the words of John F. Kennedy “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”
Therefore, together we can make a difference for a better Little Falls!
Sample Sunshine Week Open Government Proclamation
WHEREAS, James Madison, the father of our federal Constitution, wrote that “consent of the governed” requires that the people be able to “arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives,” and
WHEREAS, every citizen in our participatory democracy has an inherent right to access to government meetings and public records; and
WHEREAS, an open and accessible government is vital to establishing and maintaining the people’s trust and confidence in their government and in the government’s ability to effectively serve its citizens; and
WHEREAS, the protection of every person’s right of access to public records and government meetings is a high priority of the township of Little Falls, and
WHEREAS, the township of Little Falls is committed to openness and transparency in all aspects of its operations and seeks to set a standard in this regard; and
NOW, THEREFORE, the township of Little Falls commits during this Sunshine Week, commemorating the anniversary of James Madison’s birth, and throughout the year to work diligently to enhance the public’s access to government records and information, to increase information provided electronically and online, and to ensure that all meetings of deliberative bodies under its jurisdiction, and their committees, are fully noticed and open to the public.