Bill Rogers

‘Transparency’ bill alllows non-profits to hide funding

The following is a guest editorial.

There is a wolf in sheep’s clothing working its way through our state legislature.

The bill purports to be a transparency bill, but it is anything but… and it will hide how millions of taxpayer dollars are spent.

The wording begins saying any non-profit entity that “received more than one hundred dollars in public funds from a state agency or political subdivision in the previous calendar year or the current calendar year, must submit a quarterly expenditure report to the jurisdiction awarding the funds.”

FOIA reform bill gives faster, cheaper access

It’s been a long time coming, but citizens of South Carolina will soon have faster and cheaper access to public documents.

For seven years, the Legislature has for one reason or the other not passed an FOI reform bill. They did so on the last day of the session this year, and it offers some real improvements in our state’s open government law.

Lowcountry board members showed guts

Three school board members in the Lowcountry took a courageous step last week when they refused to attend an executive session they felt was illegal.
If more public officials refused to participate in improper or illegal secret meetings, we would have far more transparency in government.
The secret meeting was to view proposals to renovate an old school into district administration offices to the tune of $1.6 million.
So what is the need for secrecy? Shouldn't the public be privy to this presentation and discussion?

Let the sun shine in

It is Sunshine Week.
No, don't break out the SPF 70 sunscreen... this week is about shining light on government activities.
Lest we forget, letting the sun shine on government actions and records is vital to our free democratic system of government.
While efforts to improve government transparency in our Legislature have stalled for the last two years, there are those in the Palmetto State still fighting the good fight for more sunshine.
First let's recognize the journalists.

News originates with your local newspaper

National Newspaper Week - Oct. 6-12 - is a good time to offer a fresh perspective on the newspaper industry.
To paraphrase what Mark Twain said about the premature printing of his obituary, let me say that the reports of the death of newspapers in our state and nation are greatly exaggerated.
While the printed edition continues to be the core product, many newspaper media companies today also offer news in a variety of digital options: websites, text alerts, mobile sites, social media sites, apps and more.

Transparency begins with public notices

Transparency in government is a big push these days as South Carolina citizens demand improved access to public meetings and documents.
Both houses of the Legislature are studying reform and the Governor's Commission on Ethics Reform has issued recommendations on ethics and openness.
However, one important area of open government is often forgotten, and that is public notices.

Newspapers in perspective

It's National Newspaper Week, and it is a good time to put things in perspective.
In a head-to-head test of public notice results, a newspaper recently won by a 7-to-1 margin over the Internet.
People still read newspapers and are far more likely to see newspaper notices than those placed online.
The test was done in Darlington County in July by Sheriff Wayne Byrd and his local paper.

Newspapers have consistency that Web lacks

It's National Newspaper Week and a good time to set the record straight about South Carolina's 115 daily and weekly newspapers.

Your local newspaper is facing tight times, just like other businesses.

But unlike some highly‐publicized big city newspapers, your hometown paper isn't going away.

The newspaper in your hands now will keep coming to you next week and next year to tell you what's happening in your community. And we should be thankful for that.

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