So, we are now in our 29th year of publishing our newspapers. We started our company in 1990. The paper we originally started in 1983, which means that our newspaper has been covering Alpharetta and Roswell news now for 36 years. That feels like a lifetime.
Back in 1983, it would be 11 years before a technology company called Amazon arrived on the scene. It would be another four years before a company with the funny name of “Google” would be launched.
The launch of the Alpharetta ReVue preceded Facebook, Twitter, texting, smart phones, movie streaming, Fox News, Harry Potter and thousands of cable channels.
In the early years at the ReVue, we used cardboard, Exacto knives and a wax machine to paste images, artwork and long columns of words onto sheets of cardboard that I would then drive down to our printer (usually around midnight) in Columbus, Georgia.
Over the next 29 years we grew. We converted to publishing every week. Then we started more publications — Johns Creek Herald (a few years before there was a city of Johns Creek), Forsyth Herald, Milton Herald and a number of other publications that burned brightly for a number of years then “were put to bed” — usually because of a recession — Gwinnett Herald, Lake Lanier Herald, Business Post (twice), Golf-Atlanta, and a few other publications. Even as late as several months ago, we added the Dunwoody Crier to our family of publications and websites.
Each time we got knocked down, we got back up and just worked harder — because we had to. This industry is not getting any easier.
What we do has never changed, although how we do it (using new technology) has. What we started out doing and still do today is cover your local news. We do everything humanly possible to simply get the story right — un-spun and as objective as we know how. It just so happens that the reason that we operate as we do is because that is the only way we know how to do it.
But, there is another reason, and that is simply because we have an obligation to each and every one of you to get it right and to take no liberties. It’s not just about the “business” of Appen Media. It’s as much about your little leaguer, your daughter’s lacrosse team, your city council and their decisions, your parents 50th anniversary, your grandpa’s death, your son or daughter who got that scholarship, or who had a tragic accident, your elections, your achievements and your failures — and most importantly, your rights.
Does that make us somehow “above” it all because we happen to be the ones writing it? No, never. It just happens to be what we do.
With that said, I now find Appen Media taking on a brand-new assignment, one we have never taken on, which also happens to be very resource-intensive. It is not something that we have to do. It is not something that we can afford to do. But, above all, it is at the end of the day, something that we cannot not do, because if we don’t do it, no one else will.
On your behalf, we are suing the City of Roswell and its police department to compel them to comply with their legal obligation to make “public domain” information available in the proper condition and in a timely manner to the public – to you. Unlike all the other cities we cover, Roswell is refusing to release crime information — arrests, break-ins, assaults, scams and other related arrest information in a timely or comprehensive way — in accordance with the law. That is, they are taking away your right to know, your right guaranteed in state law, because they can.
The bill for our lawsuit is now approaching $10,000 paid to our attorneys to protect your rights. We have asked the City of Roswell to simply settle the matter, to just start releasing the public’s information like all the other cities do, but they have refused — because they can. Roswell has the money to tie this suit up in court — to deny you your rights — for a long time.
Why should you care if you don’t live in Roswell? Because if they win, this could set a precedent whereby other cites may begin to justify withholding information that you have a legal right to see — voting information, arrests, meetings in the sunshine and much more.
I am asking for your help.
So, I am asking you to help us pay for this lawsuit to compel Roswell to comply with the law and to stop abusing your rights — our rights. Government is responsible to the people — not the reverse. We do not have the money that we anticipate will be required to successfully win this suit. We have set up a GoFundMe campaign on GoFundMe.com/Roswell-police. As of today $1,933 has been contributed by 26 people in 13 days including $900 by Alpharetta City Councilman Ben Burnett. Our legal expenses will be transparently documented, and at the end of the suit, any additional dollars raised in the GoFundMe campaign will be donated to the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.
Every single one of your contributions is so important. This is not a stunt. This is a suit that you and I — the “public” — cannot afford to lose and that the City of Roswell cannot be allowed to win. Contribute any amount you feel comfortable with. If you do not want to contribute through GoFundMe.com you can mail in a contribution to Appen Media Group, Roswell Open Records Suit Fund, 319 North Main St., Alpharetta, GA, 30009 or you can simply call us with a credit card – 770-442-3278 and ask for Hans Appen or Lisa in Accounting.
I have thought long and hard for the past couple years about how we at Appen Media can work more as a public partner with you. It is something that needs to happen. Then, this open records problem occurred, and I realized that this is a great first step in initiating that partnership. The older I get the more I believe that nothing is random, that there is a plan and a reason for just about everything.
Please participate if you can. Let’s do this.