If you did not read this in Today’s Jasper News….

It’s always your right to know

by Jim Zachary

 

The media is most definitely not your enemy.

Far from being the enemy of the people, day in and day out, we take our role as the Fourth Estate seriously and work hard to protect your right to know, making public records requests and attending public meetings to keep you informed.

Why?

Because we believe all of the business government does, whether in open public meetings or behind closed doors, is your business.

We believe every last penny government spends is your money.

We believe it is your right to know every transaction, every decision, every expenditure and every deliberation of your government.

Whether talking about the White House, the state-house or the county courthouse, all the documents held in government halls belong to the people, and all the business conducted by our governors is public business.

We believe our government –  your government – can only be of, by and for the people when it is out in front of the people.

Primary to our Republic, is the understanding that we are the government and the government is us.

The only powers held by federal, state or local government are the powers we give.

So whether it is Congress, the state’s General Assembly, county commission, city council, or the board of education, it is your right to know all of the people’s business.

When you attend local city, county or school board meetings, ask questions and hold elected representatives accountable, you are not minding their business, you are minding your own business.

When you make a public records requests, you are not asking local record custodians to give you something that just belongs to them, or the office where they work.  You are simply asking for your own documents.

The Bill of Rights, specifically, the First Amendment which guarantees the freedom of speech and the freedoms of press, is not intended to protect the media per se, Rather, the founders built a hedge of protection around the media because the media grants and fights for the public’s right to know.

According to a Brookings Institution report, more than 2,000 newspapers present a very real and present danger to our most basic freedoms.  That’s why communities should support their local newspapers, through subscriptions and advertising, now more than ever before.

Journalists keep an eye on government, shine the light on its actions, fight the good fight for access to documents and meetings, champion transparency and defend the First Amendment because of a core belief in your basic, fundamental rights – principally, your right to know.

CNHI Deputy National Editor Jim Zachary is the President of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.  He can be reached at jzachary@cnhi.com

One Reply to “If you did not read this in Today’s Jasper News….”

  1. Woe be to us. We again have a majority of Council members who will vote together as a block. We’ve had it before with Rhett, Tonja and Willie (then Spencer) There was no sense discussing a matter because the block had already decided who and what to vote on. The fix was in. Helen railed against the block calling it the “Gang of Three.” But Helen didn’t do any better because she had her “Gang of Three” also, Helen, Walter and Tom. Tom gave way to Nicole Rivers when he became unreliable to vote with Helen. Always voting the same way In every issue, no need for a discussion because Helen had already made the decision.
    The phone will ring more now at Helen’s house because her two best friends in town, Nikki and Nicole, are now on the Council. NO need for Tom to vote on anything. And unless I miss my guess Tonja will be gone at this next council meeting because of her sins against the new “Gang of Three.” If Tonja is in fact voted off the council at the next meeting for her sin of lying on a Town Document Helen might as well vote her husband on the Council so she can assured that her words are not questioned at all.
    If that is the game plan then nothing will stand in Helen’s way of creating a dictatorship at Town Hall. In fact that is all we’ve had for the last six years, Helen, Rhett and Helen again. Where is the dissenting voice? Where is someone who knows the law and will seek to argue for following the law at all times. The Gang of Three says “don’t bother with me with the facts (law), our minds (Helen’s Mind) is already made up.”
    So therfore Tommie the weakest excuse for a Town Manager ever, will be reappointed and we’ll have a Stacy Tebo condition all over again. A Manager who is protected by the Gang of Three regardless of his inabilities to do the job.
    Now what happens if Tonja is kicked off of the Council by Helen, Walter and Anita at the next council meeting? You will see how greedy for Power Helen is by who she appoints t o the empty Council seat. Probably another one of her BFF goons. I could tell you what I think but there isn’t use in wasting the time typing it. Helen’s mind, meaning the Gang of Three’s mind is already made up.
    One thing is for certain. Helen will be JUDGED by the shape of the town in the coming months. We still don’t know where the town is after three months of Mr. Whitehead investigations and 5 119 requests for information about his investigations by this author. It’s all her show now by her designed efforts. She has her manager and her attorney and her Council members. You can count on this publication to speak, and speak loudly and clearly, when she exercises too much power for her own purposes and not for the town proper. It’s about your right t o know, Helen’s worst fear.

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