WE NEED YOUR SIGNATURE
Dear people of the Commonwealth,
On Thursday, July 10, 2008,
I received notice from the Attorney General's Office that the petition to apply the Open Government Act to the Legislature requires 512 additional valid signatures by July 21 in order for the initiative to be placed on the ballot for the November 2008 election.
What is the Open Government Act, and why is it important? The Open Government Act (Public Law 8-41) is the law that recognizes the right of the people to know what their public officials are doing on their behalf. This means that public notice with agendas must be issued for official meetings of the government at which action is taken. It also means that all public records are open to inspection by any concerned citizen who wishes to inspect such records or obtain copies.
The Open Government Act applies to all agencies, departments, boards, and instrumentalities of the government. The Act used to apply to the Legislature too, but in the early 1990s the Legislature decided to exempt themselves from the law. The Legislature continues to be exempt from the Open Government Act to this day, and as a result meetings and sessions can be called or cancelled at a moment's notice, agendas are routinely changed if they are ever even provided, bills are regularly introduced and passed on the same day without the slightest opportunity for public review, and legislators can ignore or deny citizens' requests for information without justification. Previous attempts to reapply the Open Government Act to the Legislature through the legislative process have ended in failure: legislation has been attacked, delayed, ignored, watered down, or otherwise subverted.
While the application of the Open Government Act to the Legislature may not seem like such a pressing issue to some at this time, especially in light of the severe fiscal, economic, infrastructural, and social crises we face, I strongly believe that it is precisely because of our deepening hardships that measures to stabilize the legislative process and make it more open to the public have become more crucial than ever. People need and deserve to know what their legislators are doing to tackle the many difficult issues of the day, and they have a right to be more involved in the political process.
I am convinced that it is up to the people of this Commonwealth to rise up and demand the transparency and accountability they deserve from their elected officials, and to take direct action to apply the Open Government Act to the Legislature through the popular initiative process.
512 signatures by July 21 -- can we do it? Yes, we can. And if an open and accountable Legislature is important enough to the people to get on the ballot by November 2008, we will.
To help gather signatures for the Open Government Act initiative, please contact me at 285-3935 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
I received this in an E-Mail from Tina Sablan. If you haven't signed this Open Government Act yet please do so now. It is a badly needed instrument to keep the government open and honest, if that's possible. To sign up contact Tina ..Above..