Thursday, May 23 2013 2:33 PM EDT2013-05-23 18:33:20 GMT
Three Albany men, charged with beating a man in a bar parking lot so viciously they fractured his skull. are found guilty of different levels of involvement in their trial. After three hours of deliberationMore >>
A guilty verdict after three hours of deliberation, as three Albany men are found guilty of different levels of involvement in their aggravated assault trial.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 12:25 PM EDT2013-05-23 16:25:08 GMT
Army Specialist Ciara Smith surprised her son Devin Lewis and her mother Carla Williams today at Devin's Kindergarten graduation at Harper Elementary School in Thomasville. Smith just returned from herMore >>
Army Specialist Ciara Smith surprised her son Devin Lewis and her mother Carla Williams today at Devin's Kindergarten graduation at Harper Elementary School in Thomasville. More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 11:57 AM EDT2013-05-23 15:57:54 GMT
Thomasville-Thomas County Humane Society Volunteer Lacey Williams and WALB's Stephen Abel drew the winning raffle ticket late Wednesday afternoon for a $100 gas card donated by Harold Jackson and PetroleumMore >>
A group of volunteers raised a total of $640 by selling the raffle tickets. The money will be used to fight animal cruelty through education and awareness.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 10:01 AM EDT2013-05-23 14:01:10 GMT
Albany Engineer K. Bruce Maples, P. E. announced some road closures Thursday morning. Beginning at 6:00 A.M., Saturday, May 25, 2013, the following streets will be closed for the Spring Fest and SBMore >>
Albany Engineer K. Bruce Maples, announced some road closures beginning at 6:00 A.M., Saturday, May 25, 2013, in downtown Albany.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 9:00 AM EDT2013-05-23 13:00:09 GMT
ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that metro Albany's unemployment rate declined to 8.6 percent in April, down three-tenths of a percentage point from 8.9 percent in March. TheMore >>
The unemployment rate in the Southwest Georgia region declined to 8.2 percent in April, down two-tenths of a percentage point from 8.4 percent in March. The rate was 8.8 percent in April a year ago.More >>
ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Government is supposed to ensure that society runs smoothly. To do that, meetings of governmental bodies are supposed to be open to the public.
But there can be disputes about the definition of openness. Like the one between the Dougherty County School Board and local media outlets.
Albany attorney Tommy Coleman said, "the School Board did get sued about it."
While the suit over the hiring of Dr. Joshua Murphree was eventually settled, it showed the need for clearer laws regarding governmental openness.
Right now, here's how it works. When a governmental entity like the city commission or any of its committees meets, it has to be public and there must be some kind of notice, usually in the newspaper. But there are exceptions.
"The most frequently used is for personnel, hiring, firing, discipline and that kind of thing," said Coleman.
Another facet of the law also states that records must be furnished to people who ask for them. But the law allows time for agencies to reply, and can charge those who make the request for the records themselves.
But the real problem arises when governments search for the heads of their agencies. When this is done in private it can cause real conflict, as was the case in Dougherty County.
Coleman said, "it says that any agency head such as a police chief or a city manager or a school superintendent. That you have to disclose as many as three if you do a search and that search is not public."
Violations of the Open Records law bring a fine of $100. For violating the Open Meetings Law the fine is $500.
The new Attorney General thinks that the law isn't being taken seriously enough. He wants to raise the fine to $1000. For Coleman, the real problem is not the size of the fine, it's the lack of enforcement.
While Coleman doesn't think that governments in South Georgia have a problem, he would like to see the law pushed to another level.
Coleman said, "all of us in local government would feel much better if it applied to the General Assembly, the Governor and the Attorney General."
Many states already have those kinds of provisions, but Georgia is not one of them. Despite that, Coleman says that government today is much more open than in the past. And just like in the weather, a little extra sunshine makes it better for everyone.
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