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n this April 13, 2010 file photo, California State University, Stanislaus students Alicia Lewis, left, and Ashli Briggs, move a cart full of shredded documents they say they found on campus, including part of a speaking contract for former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. A private foundation affiliated with the university had refused to make the contract public. A law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011 requires private foundations affiliated with the University of California and California State University systems to comply with the California Public Records Act. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file)

Since daylight saving time is now upon us, and we welcome more light into our lives, I am reminded that this is also the time when all citizens should celebrate another kind of light.

The week of March 10-16 is set aside this year as Sunshine Week. It is a national initiative to promote dialogue about the importance of open government and the freedom of information. Participants include news media, libraries, civic groups, private citizens and everyone interested in the public's right to know what their elected officials are doing -- and why.

The League of Women Voters of Fremont, Newark and Union City is dedicated to transparency in government, and we are celebrating Sunshine Week in two ways.

First, by reminding all of our elected councils and boards in the tri-cities that they are representatives of the people and are required to conduct the people's business in front of the people. Most of our councils and boards do a fine job, and we will show them our approval. Occasionally a board leaves much to be desired, and that, too, must be noted.

The second way we will celebrate Sunshine Week is by offering training in the Brown Act -- California's law that governs meetings for all public commissions, boards and councils.

The intent of the Brown Act is to ensure that all discussions, deliberations and decisions of these entities are conducted in the public eye.

We offer this training not only for public officials, but for the public, as well.


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It is the League's mission that citizens participate in their government, and we want to help prepare them to do so with confidence. The simple act of transparency enlightens and empowers people to play an active role in their government, and gives them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.

We encourage all citizens to attend public meetings, to see their elected officials in action, and to show them that they care how and why decisions are made, and how officials conduct themselves.

City councils, school boards, hospital boards, transportation commissions, sanitary districts, water boards -- all are open to the public.

So, at this time when we welcome more sunshine into our lives, let's also work together to bring sunshine into our government and our community.

To schedule a Brown Act training session, please contact the League at our website: www.lwvfnuc.org. Click on "Contact Us," and then click on "President."

Andrea Schacter is membership chair of the League of Women Voters of Fremont, Newark and Union City. She is a resident of Fremont.