Why Monticello News is so excited about sunshine week

The Monticello News has reported for the last two weeks that this week is “Sunshine Week” celebrating the Open Records and Open Meeting Laws.  The TWG is especially proud of those 2 laws and has used them to open up the government in Jasper County.  It was the TWG that reported the information on the City Grants that were used to fix up

the ex-City Manager’s rental houses—not the Monticello News.  It was the TWG that got Channel 11 and Jennifer Leslie to do a story on the problems citizens had trying to obtain open records and the numerous agenda additions at each BOC meeting.  The Monticello News never mentioned Channel 11 even attended the meeting or was in town.  It was the TWG that got Kathryn Allen of the Attorney General’s office to speak with our old BOC in a work session about the importance of open meetings—this was after the secret meetings with Newton County concerning the Bear Creek Reservoir.  It was the TWG that did the research on the Bear Creek Reservoir contract and reported what was going on about it; in fact we had to pay for a full page ad in the Monticello News to make sure the citizens of this county knew what was about to happen. 


Now our question is, why didn’t the Monticello News report anything about the WSB Whistleblower segment?  Will the Monticello News do some research on the Grant Money that the City has obtained for Funderburg Park?  What was the money spent on?  Will the News pressure the City to give that information? Everybody knows something has been wrong all along because after 6 years there is still no park and obviously no grant money left!  But nothing has ever been questioned about it in the Monticello News.  There is now another, new $225,000 grant that the city has obtained to do all the things the other grants were suppose to pay for—walking trails, playground equipment, and a ball field.  Will the Monticello News keep an eye on this and report what is happening, how the money is being spent, who is getting paid, and what they are getting paid for?  We can celebrate Sunshine Week with an article once a year, or we can use it all year long to obtain “the inside story” on what is going on in our City and County government.


It would be great if the Monticello News reported all stories with the depth and zeal that the recent “County Commissioner’s expense reimbursement” story was reported.  The TWG has also looked at those records, and Commissioner Bernard requested around $250 of which $112 was reimbursable for out of County travel.  He has told us he will have the $250 check voided and resubmit an expense request for $112.  Commissioner Yarbrough has received his 2 checks, one for $143 and one for $246.  He needs to reimburse the county for the $246.  We are talking about less that $500 in expenses here; yet this was headline news—all the way across the top of the front page!  Why hasn’t this kind of attention been given to Millions of Dollars in Grant money?  Why hasn’t it been reported that two commissioners and the County finance officer haven’t paid their property taxes (as of 3/10/05)? These are the people that spend OUR money but yet don’t pay their own bills on time.


It seems that reports are either “in depth” or completely ignored depending on who it is rather than what should be reported to “let the Sunshine in.”

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