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Here’s your daily dose of sunshine today, or at least the open government type of rays celebrated every year as part of the national Sunshine Week.

Earlier this month,  Lee County commissioners abandoned their normal meeting location to hold what is supposed to be a town hall-type public meeting at Sanford’s private Carolina Trace Country Club, according to this account from the writers behind the Rant, a Sanford-based news blog. (Scroll down for the video, it’s worth it.)

After digging a bit, writer Billy Liggett, a former newspaper editor, found out that the March 7 meeting was not only being held in a place where the general public couldn’t go, it was limited to residents of the Carolina Trace gated community. An advertisement later obtained by Liggett about the meeting promoted the meeting as a meet-and-greet with local Republican elected official and candidates for upcoming races.

North Carolina’s open meeting law is pretty clear on what ought to happen when it comes to these situations, requiring that “each official meeting of a public body shall be open to the public, and any person is entitled to attend such a meeting.” Read More

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UPDATE: Here’s a a link to the show’s most recent podcast, where they talk extensively about the controversy. Click here.

Last week, I wrote about a radio program suspended from airing on a Sanford community college radio station because of state Rep. Mike Stone’s complaints.

Stone, a Sanford Republicans serving his second term, had his office contact the president of Central Carolina Community College a few hours after a radio host for “The Rant,” penned a column on April 3 critical of Stone for introducing legislation that would make local elections partisan.

N.C. Rep. Mike Stone

The email from Stone’s legislative assistant to the community college president had a link to the blog post and questioned what the school’s affiliation was with the weekly program on the community college’s FM radio station WDCC.

A follow-up email from Stone’s office asked for more detailed information about the radio station’s budget, programming and funding.

The show, which had begun airing when its three hosts worked for the local newspaper, was suspended from broadcast on April 5, two days after Stone’s office complained.

(Click here to read my story and see the email’s from Stone’s office.)

Since our report went out on Friday, the Rant, which makes pop culture as much a topic as local politics, has attracted a fair amount of statewide and national attention.

There was a mention Sunday in a column by the News & Observer’s Rob Christensen and a story up today on the website for the Poynter Institute, a national group focused on the craft of journalism.  Several other political websites, from the national Think Progress blog on the left to the conservative, N.C.-based Daily Haymaker, also weighed in on the controversy.

Since Friday, I also heard back from Julian Philpott, the chair of the community college’s board of trustees who spoke directly with Stone about the matter when the lawmaker called him, twice.

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