The St. Augustine Record
December 23, 2018
In another week, when the season of giving and getting wanes, a lot of people will seek new challenges to energize themselves. They’ll write or tap out their New Year’s resolutions. Or, go into the computer and refresh the 2018 list. Forget that!
Those resolutions will be history sooner than later.
Perhaps a better and meaningful option is to become a citizen activist for quality of life in our community.
I spoke recently before two city boards representing the St. Augustine Historical Society Board of Trustees of which I am president. Having been in the back row at most public meetings as a journalist, the idea of being up front and speaking out was thought-provoking and challenging. Weeks before, the Board of Trustees worked out the position paper in support of the new Historic Preservation Master Plan. I touched on the highlights for the city boards’ members who had the position paper in front of them. I answered questions and then, I sat down. The wait to speak was longer than the speaking time itself.
Citizen activists for good government speak up and speak out at every meeting. I noticed in public comment periods in 2018, there were more new speakers. The regulars refreshed their messages, too. I am encouraged by the new speakers and appreciate the veteran ones. They are leading by example. It’s your turn to carry on the legacy of open government.
Open government is well-established as law in Florida. Florida Statues, Chapter 286, Public Business, aka, Government-in-the-Sunshine took effect on July 1, 1967.
The interaction of public speakers at government meeting, takes me back to my days at the hotbed of open government in Florida, the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications in Gainesville. The Sunshine Law had its beginnings on the UF campus. Some of my professors fought for the law.
Margo C. Pope was associated with The St. Augustine Record for 24 years, retiring in 2012 as The Record’s editorial page editor.