It’s Your Right to Know
March 12-18, 2017
Sunshine Week lasts seven days, but it’s up to all of us to keep the sun shining on our local units of government all year.
Sunshine Week is brought to you by:
the American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
With generous support from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Gridiron Club and Foundation
Sunshine Laws operate at the federal, state and local level and guarantee you, the public, access to view your government’s official actions, including but not limited to meetings, records, votes and deliberations.
The public policy behind passage of Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. (“Mich. Comp. Laws Ann.”) §§ 15.231 -.246, is set forth in its first section:
It is the public policy of this state that all persons, except those persons incarcerated in state or local correctional facilities, are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and public employees, consistent with this act. The people shall be informed so that they may fully participate in the democratic process.
In Michigan, the right of citizens to have full access to the actions of their local elected officials are covered by FOIA and the Open Meetings Act.
- OMA_handbook_287134_7 (Open Meetings Act Handbook)
- FOIA http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-act-442-of-1976
- With changes that went into effect 2015[MML Resources]
And at the local level:
Further more – you have the right to ‘reasonable accommodation’ to fully participate in and have knowledge of the business transacted at the local level under both the Americans With Disabilities Act and TITLE VI OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 which prohibits discrimination in programs and activities which receive federal financial assistance.
- See Village of Bear Lake Title VI: Non Discrimination Policy
THE VILLAGE OF BEAR LAKE NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY STATEMENT
The Village of Bear Lake is a General Law Village, in northwest Michigan, operating under the General Law Village Act 3 of 1895 as amended of the State of Michigan. Accordingly, the Village of Bear Lake is a body organized to promote the general health, welfare and safety of the public and citizens of the Village of Bear Lake. The Village of Bear Lake serves all people, including minority populations, low income populations, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and those who traverse the Village. The Village of Bear Lake, recognizes in responsibility to provide fairness and equity in all of its programs, services, and activities, and that it must abide by and enforce federal and state civil rights legislation.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is the overarching civil rights law which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, in any program, service or activity that receives federal assistance. Specifically, Title VI assures that, “No person in the United States shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefit of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal assistance.”
The Village of Bear Lake will actively pursue the prevention of any Title VI deficiencies or violations and will take the necessary steps to ensure compliance. If irregularities occur in the administration of the program’s operation, procedures will be promptly implemented to resolve Title VI issues all within a period not to exceed 90 days.
The Village of Bear Lake designates Cindi McPherson, Village Clerk as the Title VI Coordinator. The Village Clerk will be responsible for initiating and monitoring Title VI activities and other required matters, ensuring that the Village of Bear Lake complies with the Title VI regulations and pursues prevention of Title VI deficiencies or violations. Inquiries concerning the Village of Bear Lake and Title VI may be directed to the Bear Lake Village Clerk, PO Box 175, Bear Lake, MI 49614; Phone: 231.970.2066; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What YOU can do next week:
- If your local government is meeting – attend
- Ask for support for this Sample Proclamation to show their support for the right of their constituents to expect open government and transparency in all their actions – after all, it’s your money they’re spending isn’t it?