FOI Advocate Blog

The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/.
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January 27, 2012 4:24 PM

A few open government and FOIA news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier:

South Dakota GOP official joins with Democrats to support open government

PIERRE — The Republican governor’s chief of staff and a Democratic leader in the Legislature agree that public bodies should be allowed to keep minutes during closed-door meetings, but some Republican legislative leaders oppose the idea. ... uring a later meeting of his own with the newspaper officials, Dusty Johnson, chief of staff for Gov. Dennis Daugaard and a Mitchell resident, said he personally likes the idea even though he could not recall if the Daugaard administration has taken an official position on it.

Visit The Daily Republic for the rest.

A hard look at what open government means for the Department of Energy

Every government agency got on the Internet in a different way. Often times, individuals decided that they'd take their little corner of the world online. Hundreds of different ways of presenting government information to the public sprang up. Sometimes these websites were terrible, but other times, they were wonderful, or at least happened to contain vital documents that could be found nowhere else. Now, though, government agencies know that they *have* to be online, which means they need A Policy. Not only that, they need a plan to deal with the wild legacy infrastructure that preceded the era of The Policy.

Visit The Atlantic for the rest.

Under Obama, the Freedom of Information Act still in shackles

Three years ago this past weekend, on his first full day in office, President Barack Obama issued his now infamous memo on transparency and open government, which was supposed to fulfill his campaign promise to lead the “most transparent administration in history.” Instead, his administration has been just as secretive—if not more so—than his predecessors, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has become the prime example of his administration’s lack of progress.

Visit Electronic Frontier Foundation for the rest.

Audit raises safety concerns about Atlanta transit system

ATLANTA — A federal audit of Atlanta's public transit system has raised several safety concerns about equipment, a near-miss involving a train and the death of a man whose clothing became caught in an escalator. WSB-TV and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained the previously unreleased audit of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority this month through the Freedom of Information Act.

Visit The Republic for the rest.

Immigration authorities locked 13,000 in limbo

On a single day this past fall, the United States government held 13,185 people in immigration detention who had not been convicted of a crime, some of whom will not be charged with one, according to information The Huffington Post obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Instead, at a cost of roughly 2 million taxpayer dollars per day, the men and women were detained while immigration authorities sorted out their fates.

Visit Huffington Post for the rest.

Michael Moore joins Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in FOIA request

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) announced today that it is being joined by award-winning filmmaker and author Michael Moore in the Freedom of Information Act ( FOIA) demands to federal and local law enforcement agencies seeking public disclosure of documents and information concerning their involvement in the coordinated crackdown on Occupy encampments across the nation.

Visit Justice Online for the rest.

No extra part-timer to handle FOIA requests in Roscoe, IL

Village trustees briefly considered adding a part-time position to handle a recent surge of Freedom of Information Act requests, but quickly dismissed the idea at a Thursday committee meeting. The village has received 10 FOIA requests this month for 86 documents. Village Hall’s FOIA officer, Linda Day, has spent 54 hours responding to the requests this month.Village trustees briefly considered adding a part-time position to handle a recent surge of Freedom of Information Act requests, but quickly dismissed the idea at a Thursday committee meeting.

Visit Rockford Register Star for the rest.

January 6, 2012 1:42 PM

A few open government and FOIA news items from the last couple days that we might not have drawn attention to earlier:

Expert: Anaheim records policy violates state law

The Anaheim Planning Department's records retention policy violates state law by asking employees to purge certain city records before they are old enough to be legally destroyed, Voice of OC's open-government consultant, Terry Francke, said Wednesday.

[...]

"What the city is doing is administratively opting out of compliance with state law," said Francke, who is general counsel for the First Amendment advocacy group Californians Aware.

Visit Voice of OC for the rest.

Illinois state senator seeks inquiry into connections to state leases

A state senator wants Illinois government to probe its leases of buildings connected to Springfield businessman and Republican fundraiser William Cellini, who was convicted of corruption in November.

Visit State Journal-Register for the rest.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) claims not supported by evidence

Syracuse, N.Y. — Case-by-case records provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that many fewer individuals were apprehended, deported or detained by the agency than were claimed in its official statements — congressional testimony, press releases, and the agency's latest 2010 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.

The ICE data was provided to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University in late December, almost two years — 582 days — after TRAC had requested it on May 17, 2010.

Visit Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse for the rest.

Sherwood City (Ark.) Council members insist resolution did not violate FOIA

Sherwood City Council members deny violating the Freedom of Information Act regarding a controversial resolution condemning the mayor for not telling aldermen the city had received results of a $32,875 feasibility study concerning impact fees for builders.

According to the FOIA handbook, “A quorum of the governing body need not be present for the meeting to be subject to the FOIA. If two members meet informally to discuss past or pending business, that meeting may be subject to the FOIA.”

Visit Arkansas Leader for the rest.

December 9, 2011 3:52 PM

A few items selected from many of interest that we might not have drawn attention to earlier:

Hackathon aims to produce open government apps

Open government should get a boost from an event being held this weekend in San Francisco, according to event sponsor Granicus Inc. The CityCampSF Hackathon, scheduled for Dec. 10 and 11, will bring together innovative professionals from government, technology and journalism, as well as community leaders, to work on building applications that will foster civic innovation and transparency in government.

Visit Government Computer News for the rest.

Vermont Supreme Court hears plea for release of police records

A news website is asking the Vermont Supreme Court to order the Hartford Police Department to release the records of a case in which a naked man with a medical condition was pepper-sprayed and handcuffed inside his home. An attorney for the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, working for vtdigger.org, told the court Thursday that, in most cases, state law requires such documents be released.

Visit Burlington Free Press for the rest.

Pa. legislators consider opening records at Penn State, other public schools

On the same day that former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on new molestation charges, state legislators released the text of a bill that would bring the university into the reach of Pennsylvania’s public records law. House Bill 2051 would amend the Right-to-Know law to include within its purview “state-related” institutions, including four of the state’s major universities: Penn State University, Temple University, Lincoln University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Visit Student Press Law Center for the rest.

Tennessee governor opposes changing open meetings law

NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday that Tennessee's open meetings law works well and he sees no need for changes pushed by some local government officials. The governor said his own experience while serving as Knoxville mayor left him believing "the law, the way they have it, works."

Visit Knoxville News Sentinel for the rest.

ACLU demands info on workplace raids

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The ACLU is fighting Immigration and Customs Enforcement's demand for a $10,000 fee for records on an immigration raid on a Southern California factory. The ACLU wants the Federal Court to waive the fees and force ICE, a creature of the Department of Homeland Security, to release documents. The ACLU wants to know if ICE is abiding by its putative policy to target employers of undocumented workers, rather than the workers.

Visit Courthouse News Service for the rest.

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