Sunshine Week: Are We Safer in the Dark?

A National Dialogue on Open Government and Secrecy
Monday, March 13, 2006


Brought to you in celebration of Sunshine Week by OpenTheGovernment.org, American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, American Society of Newspaper Editors / Sunshine Week, Coalition of Journalists for Open Government, League of Women Voters, the National Freedom of Information Coalition, and the Special Libraries Association.

Hurricane Katrina made clear the important role of government in protecting the American public. Sadly, the federal government has expanded secrecy and limited the public’s ability to know what government is doing. What about your community? Is the government at all levels telling the public enough to make our families safer?

A national panel of experts from around the country will discuss open government and secrecy — the problems we are facing with it, how it impacts communities, and what the public can do about it. Locally sponsored programs in communities around the country could discuss how communities can keep all levels of government open.

Panel Discussion starting in Washington, DC linked via satellite to locally hosted discussions in communities across the country.

When

Monday, March 13, 2006 in the afternoon, local programs following. (Exact time TBD)
The first national “Sunshine Week: Your Right to Know” was launched in March 2005 and will be celebrated in 2006 from March 12-18. Sunshine Week’s intent is to raise awareness of the importance of open government to everyone in the community, not just journalists.

Themes for the Discussion

Are We Safer in the Dark? An Overview
A brief overview of why secrecy is needed, the problems, and how unnecessary secrecy has a real-life impact on ordinary Americans.

Public Perspectives
Americans talk about how they use openness to help keep community safe.

How Secrecy Works
A look from the inside at how the government’s power to keep secrets grows and how the secret keepers wield that power in the courts, Congress and the executive branch, undermining oversight and open public debate of controversial issues

What We Can Do: A 21st Century Vision for Openness in Government

Community Perspectives
The panel discussion will be followed by discussions organized by local communities about how government secrecy and openness shape local issues and the lives of viewers, and what the public can do about it.


How Can You Participate?
Civic organizations, libraries, universities and other groups can participate in two ways:

Be a host site.
Host sites must be able to receive a satellite
feed, underwrite a site license fee of no more than $250, and, ideally, show the national program live to an audience of 5 to 500 people. Working with other local sponsors, hosts may organize an audience discussion or panel presentation after the local program to discuss open government from a community perspective.

Be a local program sponsor.
Sponsors may work with host sites to plan local programs immediately following the national program. This national program from Washington, DC, will be broadcast via satellite feed to communities around the country. Where possible, the national organizing groups will help all interested groups find local hosts who can receive the satellite feed and show the national program.

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