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By Gina Channell Wilcox

Let the Sunshine in!

Uploaded: Mar 17, 2015

It's Sunshine Week! Sunshine Week is "a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information," according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE), the organization that launched Sunshine Week in March 2005.

Now, on the 10th anniversary, participants include news media and others, such as civic groups, libraries, nonprofits and schools. While these organizations participate, it's the public that benefits from having transparency in government.

Learn more about Sunshine Week at SunshineWeek.org. If you want to hear more about our First Amendment Rights, Cheryl Cook-Kallio and John Murphy will speak at a presentation hosted by the San Ramon Valley Exchange Club from 7 to 8 p.m. March 18 at the Canyon View Banquet Hall, 680 Bollinger Canyon Way, San Ramon.

Cook-Kallio is a 38-year veteran who teaches AP U.S. History and AP Government / We the People at Irvington High School in Fremont and served for eight years as a councilmember for the City of Pleasanton. She served the Hon. Dianne Feinstein as a Madison Congressional Fellow and currently serves on a state task force advisory board for civic education and the National Civics Teachers' Council founded by former Associate Justice Sandra Day O.Connor.

Murphy is a retired Senior Attorney in the California Supreme Court (Chambers of Justice Joyce Kennard) and a founder of the Donald P. McCullum Youth Court. The Youth Court is a restorative justice program that provides an opportunity for first-time youth offenders to participate in a peer-led youth court, health and life-skills workshops and leadership training. Murphy also served as a member of the White House Cabinet
Council on Health Affairs -- Health Policy and Economics Working Group.

While it is the journalists' job to be the watchdogs over government entities, it is everyone's duty to be informed about and protect our First Amendment right to open meetings, access to public records and transparency in government at all levels.

The journalists at the Pleasanton Weekly and Danville /San Ramon Express have found city, town and school district staff and elected officials very cooperative and transparent. However, perhaps next year, to make it formal, we should ask for a proclamation committing to the continuation and strengthening of transparency in local government.