About the Missouri Sunshine Coalition
1. Members of the Missouri Sunshine Coalition believe the best form of government is that which operates in a free and open environment, giving its citizens unfettered access to information as to its activities and the use of its public funds.
2. We believe government exists to serve its citizens, and access to such information should be simple and at minimal cost.
3. The Missouri Sunshine Coalition exists to support citizens of this State in their efforts to exercise their rights under the Missouri Sunshine Law, which is premised on the foundation that “It is the public policy of this state that meetings, records, votes, actions and deliberations of public governmental bodies be open to the public unless otherwise provided by law.
The Missouri Sunshine Coalition is a nonprofit group of volunteers committed to freedom of information and the Missouri Sunshine Law, which provides citizens access to their government.
- Jonathan Groves, Drury University (Springfield), president
- Kia Breaux, Associated Press (Kansas City), vice president
- Peggy Placier, University of Missouri (Columbia), secretary
- Jim Robertson, Columbia Daily Tribune (Columbia), treasurer
- Jean Buchanan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis)
- Doug Crews, Missouri Press Association (Columbia)
- Dennis Ellsworth, St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph)
- Mark Gordon, Missouri Broadcasters Association (Jefferson City)
- Jean Maneke, Maneke Law Firm (Kansas City)
- Kathleen O’Dell, Springfield-Greene County Library District (Springfield)
In late 2008, a group of open-government advocates met at the historic Tiger Hotel in downtown Columbia, Mo.
The hotel is a stone’s throw away from the Missouri School of Journalism, founded in 1908 as the world’s first school of journalism. The school also houses the administrative offices of the National Freedom of Information Coalition.
Given that rich heritage, it had always seemed odd that Missouri did not have an active open-government coalition. The folks at Tiger Hotel resolved to change that.
With participation from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters, the group agreed to form the Missouri Sunshine Coalition.
The founders incorporated the coalition as a Missouri nonprofit in December 2008, and the Internal Revenue Service approved the coalition’s nonprofit status in August 2009.
Since its inception, the coalition has actively participated in annual Sunshine Week activities. The group has also held Sunshine Law information sessions for the public.
In January 2010, the coalition also released results of an information audit it had conducted among the sheriff’s offices in the state’s 114 counties. The audit found vast inconsistencies in the way sheriffs handled basic information requests, with some charging hundreds of dollars for just one day’s worth of incident reports.
The coalition is committed to continuing and expanding on its mission of making public information as accessible as possible in Missouri.