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Command a Positive Role in Democracy with Open Records

Join Stefan Ritter, Georgia's Senior State Attorney General, on Tuesday, Feb. 19, as he leads a community session: Georgia's Open Meetings and Open Records Act.

At the local level, it can promote justice for one person or for entire communities. If you ever have to defend yourself or help someone else defend themselves, it can be a powerful tool. It often helps provide the checks and balances so sacred to our democracy – even in a little democracy – a local democracy like our community. It should always be used to uncover facts, promote honesty and enhance dialogue.

At the national level, 27 federal agencies opposed it; three presidents stalled it, and one president allegedly signed it saying he’d sign "the damned thing."

It’s the Open Meetings and Open Records Act and it's the law that supports your access to public information. Join Stefan Ritter, Georgia's Senior State Attorney General, on Tuesday, Feb. 19, as he leads a community session: Georgia's Open Meetings and Open Records Act at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Catholic Church, 5454 Timmers Way, Norcross, GA, from 7 to 9 p.m.

The law is designed to give the average citizen access to public information. Historically, journalists have used this tool to verify facts and learn new information. In this age of information – with lightning speed technology and communication – the average citizen needs the ability to use these tools in much the same way.

Attending this workshop will provide you with the skills and resources to effectively navigate these laws. Over the years, I've had the good fortune to watch and learn from concerned, regular citizens who filed important requests and persistently followed up on them. Their work led to important change at the local, state and even national level. I've also been fortunate to learn from records custodians, some of whom handled my requests with reluctance, but some of whom handled my requests with patience and helpful insight. I've learned from them all. You will get the chance to meet some of these good neighbors on Tuesday evening. Please join me. 

Gwinnett Gets Informed is a grassroots, no-cost organization designed to inform Gwinnett citizens about public access laws so they can pursue public information of importance to them. Each quarter Gwinnett citizens will have an opportunity to present responses to their open records requests publicly; seek support from like-minded community members, and dialogue with professionals as they attempt to bring about change in their community. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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