Monday, October 13, 2014

City of Rochester and the right to know

When I was in Duluth in August I overwhelmed by the response by the public who very much wanted to know and learn about this tool (law) called the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.  There was a hunger for residents of that fine city to learn about why their elected officials are destroying a great stretch of canopied trees on 4th Street.   There were several people engaged with agencies in trying to get information about themselves in pursuant of their due process rights. Numerous reasons why the people were there, but one common thread connected them......they wanted data about themselves or about the government that is involved in their daily lives.

In Rochester next week, there will be an activity to continue the empowerment of residents of Minnesota:

"On Tuesday, October 21, 2014, Saint Paul-based non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at the Heintz Center at Rochester Community and Technical College. The Henitz Center is located as 1926 College View Road, SE, in Rochester. The event will run from 6:00pm-8:00pm in the Heintz Commons.

The workshop will explore how members of the public can use FOI laws – both Minnesota and federal – to obtain government records of interest to them. The presentation will feature comments by Rich Neumeister, a long-time record requester and open government advocate. An introduction will be given by PRM president Matt Ehling."

Over the past weeks since Matt and I were in Duluth we have heard from people who have used the Data Practices Act to gather data on policy matters and to fight for their due process rights.  After the intensive almost 2 hour workshop, one could see in many of the faces of people who were there that they may not be a lawyer, professional journalist, or researcher, but were a resident/citizen and they had a right to know more about their government.  And they were going to use this new tool (Data Practices Act) they learned.

See you in Rochester!

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