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Sign up for free help accessing public records using your cell phone

Free course helps find public records
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Posted at 12:02 PM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 18:07:11-04

CLEVELAND — A new initiative aimed at providing easy access to public records is now available to anyone with a cell phone.

It’s called “Public Records are Power” and consists of seven free lessons arriving in daily text messages exploring both how to find public records and how to make requests for everything from salaries of public officials to crime in your neighborhood.

The project was created by Rachel Dissell, a former award-winning investigative reporter with the Cleveland Plain Dealer for 18 years, and sponsored by the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative, aided by Cleveland Documenters that operates a separate program paying local citizens to attend public meetings and report what they find on its website.

RELATED: Cleveland Documenters is making public meetings more accessible while teaching new skills

Together, they are part of a broader emphasis on transparency of local government and empowering citizens to take an active role in the democratic process.

“If more people are asking for records and they’re doing it the right way—it’s going to change the culture about public information and records in our city,” says Dissell.

Each interactive session takes just 5 to 10 minutes and enrollment begins simply by clicking an easy-to-share link and entering your cell phone number.

You can sign up to take these lessons here, or by entering your phone number into the form below:

Clevelanders: learn to access local public records in a free, fun, text-message course

🔎 Public Records Are Power 💪 is a free course of 7 micro-lessons, each texted once a day to your phone and taking no more than 5-10 minutes. It empowers Clevelanders to access local public records. Complete the interactive course to receive an awesome cheat sheet, free help in requesting public records and a chance to win $300. It is sponsored by the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative, aided by the Cleveland Documenters.

The course covers topic such as:

  • What’s a public record? And what isn’t?
  • How to phrase a request to get what you want?
  • How long should you have to wait and what will it cost?

You will receive a cheat sheet with tips and helpful links, free support to write and pursue your public records request and a chance to win $300.

You can also access Ohio Public Records information known as “Ohio Sunshine Laws” here and use this Cleveland Public Records Portal to request city public records.

RELATED: Information requests, interviews often go unanswered by Cleveland officials

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