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Aiken Standard Newspaper Archives Dec 12 1999, Page 1

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Aiken Standard (Newspaper) - December 12, 1999, Aiken, South Carolina A Russia backs Down on Chechnya. Page 10a All your news Aiken Tan bark its beginning to look a lot like Christmas dec. 12 13 shopping Days to Christmas vol. 133, no. 346 Aiken South Carolin sunday december 12,1999 Christmas events Midland Valley Parade tour of Homes a pages 2a, 5a great Dayne Ron Dayne takes the Heisman trophy a Page 1b is aright government Law enforcement records still often kept secret associated press Columbia a if you want to know what crimes Are committed in your neighbourhood there a a Good Chance that in South Carolina you can to find out. Want to Check if someone a in jail in some places you la be told that a not your business. Want to know How your taxes Are being spent some City or county governments will say you can to see the records. The legislature says you re entitled to those records. Last year lawmakers changed South Carolinas Freedom of information act to make Clear what must be immediately available so you the taxpayer can get a quicker and More Complete look at How your police your school districts and your government function. All you should have to do is ask. The Law does no to require identification oaths or a need to say Why you want it. It Isnit working very Well based n the results of the first statewide Check of compliance coordinated by the associated Tess and the South Carolina a Ress association. In nearly one it of every three cases when records were requested they Ere denied or not produced within the Laws time limits. In one Case Law officers traced he License plate of a woman Mak Tig the request in Union county. He sheriff said the woman Sequest and questions had unnerved people. The same thing happened in opens when officials were sked for meeting minutes. Quot we an his tag number to find out to he was to Start with a clerk treasurer Shirley Reynolds said. And Andersons mayor said he Oul Dnn to provide the records because the person requesting hem Wasny to from there. A i am puzzled As to the Rele Vance of our expenditures in Anderson to your daily existence. With no visible connection to our Community i find this exercise useless a mayor Richard Shirley wrote. Shirley later said he was afraid it was a harassment tactic by anti government groups. A that illustrates the absolute arrogance of some people who be in government a said Jay Bender a Columbia lawyer who has helped shape the states open records and meetings Laws. In Short were South Carolina to be graded by the same standards it demands of its Public school students the 70 percent compliance rate would be a Low d. In Many cases where records were supposed to be available immediately for the asking especially jail logs and crime reports agencies were Given two or three please see secret Page 7a Freedom of information recently 14 newspapers in South Carolina conducted a Survey statewide to measure the accessibility of government records to the general Public and found that in Many instances information was denied. Public information sought in sir any Survey totals when we asked for these Public documents 353 r c0 is requested crime reports jail logs Board and Council meeting minutes county expenses City expenses not provided 43.9% 34.8% superintendent contract 31.9% staff photo by Ginny Southworth Aiken Standard staff writer Adam Burton studies a crime report As part of an open records inquiry. Local Public bodies comply with Foi Law with some exceptions a a area school boards among the Best while area Law enforcement found lacking by Adam Burton for the most part agencies within the City of Aiken and the counties of Aiken Barnwell and Edgefield Are complying with requests for information covered by the Freedom of information act. The Public school systems were perhaps the most accessible in terms of acquiring information. School Board meeting minutes and school superintendent contracts were acquired from All three counties without difficulty and without Cost though the Foi act authorizes them to charge a Quot reasonable feel for copies of records. It should be noted that in cases where minutes of Public bodies have not been prepared or approved yet an audio tape if one was recorded should be available for Public perusal the Only Case where a request was denied from the school systems was in the Case of the superintendent of Edgefield county schools. A please be advised that the school District does not have a written contract with our superintendent at this time. Once we do have such a contract however we will be Happy to provide you with a copy a said Greg w. Anderson Legal Council for the school District in a letter sent Well within the legally mandated 15 working Days response time. The councils and administrators for the City of Aiken and Aiken Barnwell and Edgefield counties also fared Well in the . Press associations audit. Copies of the most recent meeting minutes for All four councils were provided at either nominal or no Cost. Edgefield please see local Page 6a government secrecy deeply rooted 12.2% j no response in 15 Days source the South Carolina press association and the associated press associated press Columbia a that South Carolinas open records and open meetings Law often is ignored or flouted does no to Surprise Law professor Eldon Wedlock who sees the roots in a decades old culture of government secrecy. He recalls that while doing research at the Secretary of states office before the 1978 Law passed Quot it was basically a what is your Security clearance Why do you need to know that a a a it is troubling that there is still this sort of cold War attitude to keeping pub Lic records from the Bona fide Public a the University of South Carolina professor said after learning of the numerous violations in a statewide test of the Freedom of information act. The journalists and journalism students who asked for Public records around the state often found people citing old versions of the Law unaware of what the Law required or unsure of How to Deal with routine records requests. Some Public officials simply said no the records would not be released. That please see rooted Page 6a bloody clothes found human blood has been identified on clothing found last sunday after the disappearance of Tiffaney Wilson the Young Mother who was last seen in the Market place parking lot in North Augusta. It. Tim Pearson spokesman for North Augusta department of Public safety would not disclose How much blood or where on the clothing the blood was located. Pearson did say Dan testing has been requested. He noted results of such tests could take a couple of weeks. Naps has also requested assistance from the Public in locating the person seen driving a car away from the Georgia Welcome Center just before a passerby found Wilson a 2-month-old daughter near the parking lot there. Please see bloody Page 9a robbers hit poker Parlours by Melissa Hanna the sheriffs office is investigating two armed robberies one which involved a shooting that occurred Friday night and Early saturday morning at two different video poker establishments in Aiken county. The first robbery occurred around 10 30 . Friday night at the Eagle express at 550 Ascuaga Lake Road in Graniteville. Two men entered the store and one pointed a Rifle or Shotgun at the clerk and ordered him to lie Down on the floor. After lying Down the employee heard the Cash Register tray crash to the floor. The subjects then took an amount of Money from the Register and left the store. Please see robbers Page 9a a homelands opens annual Light show by Loren Schneider under a starry sky and with a slight nip in the air Christmas in homelands opened saturday night. In its eighth year Christmas in homelands features Over 70,000 individual lights and 25 lighted displays along More than 1.5 Miles of lighted pathways winding through the gardens. Quot so far so Good a said Glen Parker superintendent of recreation at Aiken Parks and recreation department As he was doing a last minute walk through. Quot the crowds have been Good so far and the weather is a Large crowd of people strolled through homelands admiring All the lighted displays. Others were sitting across from the performing arts stage listening to the town Creek Baptist Church perform. A i think it was excellent a said Sonny new from please see homelands Page 9a to know a a Community of character december forgiveness a Index classifieds. .5d comics. Crossword. .3c dear Abby. .2c movies. .3b opinions. .11a sports. In sunday morning. In television. Inside a death and funeral notices Jacqueline Marie Council. Aiken . Brightharp amp sons mortuary Diane Williams Gladney Ward Davis funeral Home Justin Wesley Noakes Windsor Hatcher funeral Home obituary notices on Page 4a. A have a news tip Call 648-2311 a a. Lottery saturday s winning numbers Cash 3 midday 9-5-8 c Ash 8 evening 4-0-7 Ash 4 4-9-s-4 fantasy 5 7-11-28-4-6 lotto a 12-27-1-26-6-39 a weather sunday Aikens acc weather so

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