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Local News

  • SUNSHINE WEEK FOIA: Shining the light on (part of) the federal government

    The Freedom of Information Act: It sounds so powerful, as if muttering the term will grant you immediate access.

    Unfortunately, that is not always the case with Freedom of Information Act, more commonly referred to as FOIA.

    FOIA is to the federal government what the state’s public records law is to North Carolina, with several exceptions, that is.

    The president, most notably, is exempt from FOIA. So are his cabinet and immediate staff.

    So is Congress, both House and Senate. Even the Supreme Court is exempt from FOIA.

  • SUNSHINE WEEK Ocean Isle Beach woman fights for First Amendment

    Editor’s note: Ginny Quaglia is the first recipient of The Brunswick Beacon’s Citizens’ First Amendment Award. Quaglia was selected for the inaugural award from nominations the Beacon received from community members for her commitment to the First Amendment, freedom of information and the public’s right to know.

    Four years ago Ginny and Joe Quaglia retired from Pittsburgh and built their retirement home in Brunswick County.

  • SUNSHINE WEEK How to make a public records request and what to do if you’re denied
    1. First, it’s important to identify the correct agency that is the custodian of the information you’re seeking. It’s also important to be specific about exactly what it is you are seeking.
  • SUNSHINE WEEK The true cost of public records: What agencies can (legally) charge for public documents

    Reporter’s note: Here’s a public records tip. When requesting public information—especially when requesting extensive information—request as much information as possible electronically. Have the custodian of the record e-mail you the information. If they say they cannot e-mail you, provide the custodian with a blank CD or portable drive to upload the information.

  • SUNSHINE WEEK N.C. Open Meetings Law governs how and why boards can retreat to closed sessions

    If members of a public board in North Carolina would like to meet in closed session, they must have a good reason.

    And that reason must be one of nine exemptions to the North Carolina Open Meetings Law.

    The law also requires board members to disclose the nature of their retreat to closed session, including citing the specific provision to the law that allows the board to enter into a closed session.

    There are nine exemptions to the North Carolina Open Meetings Law—all other business must be conducted in the open.

    No exceptions.

  • SUNSHINE WEEK Campaign finance reports at all levels of government are public record

    Since we’re in the middle of a heated presidential primary election season, political commercials have inundated TVs, radios and online radio stations.

    If you want to know who’s paying for those ads (and bankrolling your favorite or least favorite candidate), all you have to do is ask—it’s public record.

    That’s right, campaign finance reports, which detail who’s giving money to whom, and who’s spending money on what, are public record, available for public inspection.

  • SUNSHINE WEEK Property of the people: What records are public in North Carolina

    What do property tax records, a sex offender registry and campaign finance reports have in common?

    No, it’s not the beginning of a political joke. They’re all public records, and, as such, they belong to the people, not the government.

    Public records are property of the people, and the law requires the public have full access to these records, regardless of the form in which they appear—paper, electronic or other.

  • SUNSHINE WEEK Tips and tricks from a public records pro

    It’s time to celebrate Sunshine Week—a week each year created to celebrate freedom of information and your right to know.

    Started (suitably) by a group of news editors in Florida in 2002, Sunshine Week was taken over the National Society of News Editors in 2003, and the rest, as they say, is history.

    This week, hundreds of news organizations and community groups celebrate the public’s right to know during the weeklong celebration.

  • SUNSHINE WEEK Yours for the taking—What you’re entitled to at every level of government

    Public records are property of the people, so here’s a list of what’s yours for the taking (at every level of government.)

    Municipal

    •Employee job descriptions and salaries

    •Budgets

    •Meeting minutes

    •Minutes of closed session meetings after the reason for the closed session is resolved

    •Government contracts and bids on government contracts

    •Correspondences, including e-mails, between board members and town staff

  • Attempted robbery at Calabash restaurant

    CALABASH—The South Brunswick Task Force is investigating an attempted “armed robbery” Monday morning at a local restaurant.
    Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call about a suspect trying to break into George’s Pancake House early Monday morning.
    Information provided late Monday by the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office was scant.
    Sheriff’s office spokesman Del Routh said Monday afternoon a detective has relayed the investigation centers around a male subject who was wearing a black hoodie with a mask and blue jeans. The suspect had a black ski mask with eye slots cut out.