If you have any questions please contact the Coordinator, Valerie Lafferty
March 16, 2021 - 7:00 -8:00 p.m. Government Transparency: Let the Sunshine IN!, a webinar highlighting the importance of transparency in government honoring Sunshine Week. The participants are Zoe Clark, Michigan Radio Program Director & Co-host of “It’s Just Politics” and Kyle Kaminski, Managing Editor & writer of The City Pulse. For more information click here.
Protecting our right to know is integral to the health of our democracy. Decisions that determine how our schools will be run, at what level community safety and sustainability programs will be funded, and how land in our towns will be used to impact our lives and are vital to our well-being. These kinds of decisions need to be made with public input and oversight. One important way to ensure that is to observe government meetings. The League has been a champion of government transparency since our founding in 1920. It is one of our core principles and a vital part of our mission. Our efforts in this area reinforce our reputation of fairness, nonpartisanship, and trust. League Observer Corps members attend government meetings, in person or virtually, to learn what the governments in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties are doing and to monitor whether those meetings are conducted in an open and transparent way. Experience has shown the importance of the League being present to watch—and to take action when necessary.
A Lansing Area Observer Corps member is an individual who regularly attends a governmental meeting in person or virtually, and reports back what happens at the meeting afterward on a brief online form which is compiled monthly and shared with membership. Given the loss of local news reporting, the local news supplied by Observers to members is welcomed to better understand what's going on in our counties, cities and neighborhoods. Significantly, the program also educates members on how government works, how decisions are made and how the League might advocate on verified issues important to League values. Local information gleaned that may require action is first vetted with the Observer Corps Steering Committee, Board of Directors where a whole range of appropriate actions might be planned to explore or address the issue of concern, like an educational webinar, letter to the editor, etc. The LWV Observer Corps is growing rapidly in Michigan and the nation and we hope you will consider joining as well!
Why the Observer Corps? Relevant Articles
PBS – A Tumultuous Times in the New Business – 2/23/2021
New York Times – How the Collapse of Local News is Causing a ‘National Crisis’ – 11/20/2019
The Atlantic – Local News is Dying and American Have No Idea – 3/26/2019
Washington Post – Massive Investment in Social Studies & Civics Education Proposed to Address Eroding Trust in Democratic Institutions – 3/1/2021
Washington Post – The Battle Over Climate Change is Boiling Over on the Home Front – 2/23/2021
LWVUS Observing Your Government in Action – Protecting Your Right to Know!
In a Nutshell: The public has the right to access meetings of almost all governmental bodies at the state and local levels. A “meeting” is defined as any gathering of a simple majority of members of a governmental body for information gathering or fact finding or to discuss or take action regarding official business or policy.
The Public (LWVLA Observer Corps volunteers) has the right to expect notice in advance of the meeting and the right to inspect and copy meeting minutes.
Notice of the regularly scheduled meetings should be published within 10 days of the first meeting each year.
Meeting minutes are required and must be made available to the Public for inspection.
Most governmental bodies have their own websites where this information is posted.
The Public has the right to comment, according to the rules established by the governmental body you are observing. For example, many meetings allow time at the beginning of a meeting and at the end of the meeting for public comment.