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Today's News

  • Shallotte complies with public records law

    SHALLOTTE—The Brunswick Beacon requested two years worth of e-mails, minutes and correspondence relating to the town’s business with Sandler at Shallotte LLC, the developers of San Rio Ocean and River Club off Gray Bridge Road.

    Town staff provided the information within two days and did not charge for copies or ask the reason for the requests.

    Shallotte Town Administrator Paul Sabiston said the public is always welcome to look through the public documents and request copies.

  • No Port Southport seeks port alternatives

    SOUTHPORT—No Port Southport, a nonprofit agency formed to stop the N.C. Ports Authority’s plan to build an international container terminal on 600 acres near Southport, wants to know a better way to use that land.

    The group has announced a contest to begin April 1 and run through June 15, asking everyone from high schoolers and professionals to retirees what they would do with the acreage instead of building the international terminal.

  • Yours for the taking

    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

    •Meeting agendas

    •Town ordinances

    •Land-use plans and unified development ordinances

    •Proposed plans for planning and zoning

  • Congressional delegates must disclose personal, campaign financial information

    While members of Congress are shielded from the Freedom of Information Act, they are required to disclose financial information—both personal and campaign related.

    Federal election campaign laws require congressional and presidential candidates to report campaign and committee finances to the Federal Election Commission.

    Campaign finances for congressional and presidential candidates are accessible at www.fec.gov.

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

    Wouldn’t it be nice to be a fly on the wall when board members discuss business in closed sessions?

    State law doesn’t allow reporters or members the public into closed session meetings, but the law requires board members to disclose the nature of their retreat to closed session.

  • The Freedom of Information Act: Shining the light on one-third of the federal government

    Filing a Freedom of Information Act request with a federal government agency is no easy task. The Act, itself, is often misunderstood, and the process can be cumbersome.

    But the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is the cornerstone of an open and transparent government—provided it’s the executive branch, and not the president or his immediate staff. FOIA requests only apply to executive agencies in the federal government, not to state or local public records.

  • Property of the people: Shining the light on North Carolina's Public Records Law

    Public records are property of the people, and the law requires its owners have full access.

    Chapter 132 of the North Carolina General Statutes governs what documents government agencies must make available to the public—no ifs, ands or buts.

    The law clearly states everyone have access to public records but you have to know what records are public before seeking access. The general rule of thumb is this: All documents are public unless the agency can prove by law it’s not.

  • N.C. General Statute 132.1

    (a) “Public record” or “public records” shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data-processing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions.

  • Access to courts and public court documents in North Carolina

    “Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman,” former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said 76 years ago.

    Brandeis’ words are just as powerful today as in 1933, and are backed by the U.S. and North Carolina constitutions.

    Article 1, Section 18, of the N.C. Constitution states, “All courts shall remain open.”

  • In due time--It's time for North Carolina to adopt a better policy

    “In due time.” Oak Island Town Attorney Brian Edes wrote in an e-mail to Colin Tarrant, the attorney representing Brian Keese in a public records lawsuit, that he or Oak Island Town Administrator Jerry Walters would respond to a request for public records “in due time.”

    A year and a half later, this matter remains unresolved. With a June 29 trial date set, the case could drag on for months.

    “In due time.”