Help Keep Our Government Honest
Our local government gets very little real attention. It can
go awry and nobody would know. Millions of tax
dollars in your area alone are at stake.
That's where you can help.
You can investigate your town budget, attend public meetings,
or look into your school's finances. You don't need to be an
accountant; you just need to be determined and curious.
If you demand answers, you will be surprised what
you can uncover.
The Missouri Sunshine Laws were passed for
just such a purpose. You can download summaries of them below.
The Missouri Sunshine Laws for Public Meetings: Word Document
(16 KB) | PDF
The Missouri Sunshine Laws for Public Records:
(16 KB) | PDF
Exceptions to the Sunshine Laws:
(16KB) | PDF
Attorney General's guide to the Sunshine Laws: PDF
There are also these resources:
lawyer's blog on the Sunshine Laws
Because these laws do not have a ton of bite, a public
official might ignore you, or even lie to you. This has happened to
several citizen investigators in recent years, notably one
drug task forces,
and a mother investigating her child's public school for conducting free
market research on students for private
However many officials do comply with requests. The results
sometimes uncover conspiracies to defraud the public, as Rich Simpson
did when looking into the
Fox school district's treatment of his child.
You can read an example of the Sunshine Laws in action here:
Dangerous, and Unaccountable by Aaron Malin (PDF: 3 MB)
If you think something is fishy at your school, or city, or any
entity that collects taxes, but don't have firm
you can request a state audit. Unlike the Sunshine
Laws, a state audit has a lot of teeth. By law, if you manage to secure
enough signatures, the state must perform an audit.
Here are two guides on how to make that happen:
How to Request a State Audit: Word Document
A Hunter's Guide to Investigation: Word
Document (18 KB) |
PDF (195 KB)
As always, if you uncover budget information that needs
looking over, or need advice, do not hesitate to contact us.
Other Ways to Help
Any talent or interest can be used for a social purpose. In
particular, we welcome:
- Candidates who are leaders and will
stand for office in the
- Candidates for local offices (school
executives, city councils, etc.).
- Investigators and researchers
to gather information on
political situations, offices, misdeeds, positive actions, etc.
- Writers to talk about issues, blog
- Creative talents in acting, singing,
composing, scripting, videomaking, etc. to communicate ideas.
- Organizers and planners
to lay out website content, outline
political strategies, file information, etc.
- Philosophers, political scientists and historians
their knowledge of political society with others, and chart a course
- Social networkers to act as ambassadors
groups, to bridge differences, build communities and recruit
- Debaters and orators
to speak publicly about
- Editors and proofreaders
to polish any written content
(articles, songs, speeches, etc.).
- Critics and skeptics
to provide useful feedback (i.e., we
don’t need trolls or negativity for its own sake).
There are, of course, lots of other tasks that need doing,
such as folding pamplets, typing addresses, circulating petitions, etc.
Contact a Volunteer Leader (click
here) and they will find a way to accomodate your interests
Five Things That Always Help
Here's a short list of the best things a person can do to help the
Listen to people. To restore a vibrant
democracy, we need to be more comfortable with listening to other
viewpoints. Find out what others think about our political system. If
they have good insights, share them with other Volunteers. If a person
wants political change, see if they are interested in helping out too.
Talk to each other. Give timely feedback. Tell
us what we're doing well, and what we're doing wrong. Share your ideas
different ways of voting, governing, or taxing. Let us know if you
need help. Without feedback, we're often left stumbling in the dark.
Make a small committment to a task. Pledge your
energy toward a small goal that will help the Volunteer cause. Maybe
you could attend a school board meeting and take notes, or draw a
cartoon character for a pamphlet. Keep it simple. If you try to
accomplish too much at once, you'll quickly become overwhelmed and
discouraged. Houses have to be built one brick at a time - the same
goes for political causes.
Stay informed. Make an effort to check up on
facts. A political policy often hinges on a single detail that turns
out to be false. Political groups are notorious for spinning data to
support their agenda; be skeptical, but be fair. If a person asks a
question and you don't know the answer, don't be afraid to admit it.
Without a balanced and honest presentation of facts, the Volunteer
Movement is no better than the other special interests in Missouri
who mislead the public.
Explore your community. Find out who your local
politicians are, and what they are (or aren't) doing. Talk to others in
your community by attending meetings, fairs, and so forth. It can be
scary, but in the end, face-to-face contact is the only way we can
really become comfortable with each other, and build trust.