Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pennsylvania Sunshine Act

A thoughtful and blunt anonymous commenter here said:
You know, the reason these public officials feel free to tromp all over the rights the Sunshine LAw gives you people is that you never bother to learn what those rights are.

The commenter is right, and many people do not know what their rights are. There is a good summary of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act here.

The Act gives the public the right to be present at the public meetings of a large number of defined "agencies." It gives the public the right to witness deliberation, policy formulation, and decision making of those agencies. The public has the right to the advertizing and public notice of agency meetings, and must be given reasonable opportunity to comment on the business before action is taken.

The Act provides only six valid purposes for which an agency can meet in executive session, and they are listed in the article linked above.

Knowing the rights is critical. Deciding how to exercise and protect those rights is left to each individual.

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4 comments:

Sunshine girl said...

You might want to check this out: http://www.sunshineweek.org/sunshineweek/paedit

It will give you an interesting perspective.

Stewart said...

Thanks, sunshine girl. That article is a scary summary of the ways governments violate the law.

I realize that often the question I ask myself when the Sunshine Act is being violated is "Do I want to get in the face of this elected official over this issue?"

While I ask myself that question I don't often remember that the elected official had apparently already decided to get in my face over the issue.

Anonymous said...

Hi:

I was wondering if someone could tell me what "To consider the purchase or lease of real property" means in the executive session part of the Sunshine Act?

Thanks,
Schoolmom

Stewart said...

Hi Schoolmom,

The language seems almost self-explanatory, unless you are asking about some specific way the words might be interpreted. Can you say more about what you are trying to find out?