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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April 24, 2014 7:46 AM

A Charleston attorney predicts the state Supreme Court’s ruling will have a “chilling effect” on West Virginia’s residents seeking public documents through FOIA requests.

The 4-1 ruling, issued April 10, effectively clears the way for government organizations to charge hourly fees to fulfill requests for public documents filed through the Freedom of Information Act.

It began with a $25 hourly fee the City of Nitro started charging business owners Richard and Lorinda Nease for the retrieval of five years’ worth of records as part of a storm drainage dispute. The Neases challenged that fee.

The state’s FOIA law does allow government organizations to establish fees for the “actual cost in making reproductions,” which Kanawha County Circuit Judge Charles King took to mean the cost of copying the documents. Continue>>>
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November 26, 2013 3:51 PM

From The Charleston Gazette: WINFIELD, W.Va. -- A Putnam County website publisher was acquitted Friday of the charge of willful disruption of government process after an incident involving the county's health department in April.

Mark Hallburn, who runs the website www.putnamlive.com, was arrested after visiting the Putnam County Health Department to inquire about FOIA requests Hallburn had filed with the agency.

Visit The Charleston Gazette for more.

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August 16, 2013 8:34 AM

From NFOIC:  A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week. While you're at it, be sure to check out State FOIA Friday Archives.

Indy district seeks records on takeover of schools

Indianapolis Public Schools leaders filed a public records request Thursday seeking information on the 2011 takeover of four schools amid questions about the integrity of the state's A-F school grading formula. IPS Board of Commissioners President Diane Arnold called for a review of the decisions that led the state to give control of the schools to charter operators after they were consistently found to be "failing." ... The grading system has been under fire since The Associated Press published emails last month showing former schools chief Tony Bennett oversaw changes to the formula to ensure a top Republican donor's school received an 'A'. Bennett subsequently resigned as Florida's education commissioner.

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Wyoming schools superintendent questions state's response time in public records request

The first few thousand state email correspondences requested last month by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill were released from Gov. Matt Mead’s office earlier this week. Hill and her attorney argue the response from the state -- which estimated fulfilling Hill's public records request would take months and require combing through some 80,000 documents -- has been sluggish.

Also see: Cindy Hill narrows public records request

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Editorial: FOIA records price reflects poorly on Hilton Head Island

Little seems reasonable about Hilton Head Island’s bill of up to $13,000 to produce public documents. That’s the cost estimate put on a documents request from island businessman Skip Hoagland, who is suing the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. The documents sought are related to the accommodations tax money the town gives the chamber. Town officials say they’re trying to cover the cost of fulfilling the request, which they say will require multiple staffers to sift through thousands of documents in several databases and archives.

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Slashing the cost of FOIA requests in Michigan

State lawmakers could be taking up a bill that would make getting information easier from public entities. House Bill 4001 limits the costs a public body can charge when someone files a request for public records under the Freedom of Information Act. “Costs associated with FOIA had grown to the point they had become a barrier to information the public was otherwise supposed to ordinarily have,” said the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Mike Shirkey, R-Clark Lake, in a statement. “If you can’t afford to get it, you obviously can’t read it..."

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Court sides mostly with University of Illinois Springfield in FOIA dispute

A state appellate court has upheld the majority of a circuit court ruling that limits the disclosure of documents relating to the resignations of former University of Illinois Springfield coaches and a $200,000 settlement with a student-athlete in 2009. The 4th District Appellate Court found that all but a few documents withheld by UIS, including witness statements about an incident during a spring 2009 softball trip to Florida, were exempt from disclosure under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. ... Last fall, Jersey County Circuit Judge Eric Pistorius, who was appointed to hear the case in Sangamon County, ordered the release of 12 pages of documents, while ruling that other documents he had reviewed were protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) or were used in a deliberative process and therefore exempt from FOIA disclosure.

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Judge orders WVU Urgent Care to comply with FOIA request

MORGANTOWN – A Monongalia County judge has ruled that West Virginia University Medical Corporation is a public body and must respond to a Freedom of Information Act request. Monongalia Circuit Court Judge Phillip D. Gaujot made his ruling Aug. 6 in Monongalia County General Hospital’s lawsuit against WVU Medical Corporation, doing business as University Health Associates. A year ago, Mon General Hospital submitted a FOIA request to WVUMC, seeking documents related to WVUMC’s relocation of its urgent care center to Suncrest Towne Centre. ... WVUMC is a nonprofit that supports the clinical practice of physicians employed by the WVU School of Medicine. It denied Mon General’s FOIA request on Aug. 24.

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Exploring official corruption, records in New Mexico

New Mexico has had its share of government corruption scandals in recent years. Former state Treasurers Michael Montoya and Robert Vigil and former state Senate Democratic leader Manny Aragon are among those who have been convicted and sent to prison. The scandals have helped contribute to a perception by New Mexicans that government here is among the most corrupt in the nation. The 2013 Garrity Perception Survey of New Mexicans found that state officials are among the least trusted people, even less trusted than lawyers and journalists. A new study suggests that the effective use of the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act may also be contributing to the public perception of a high level of government corruption in New Mexico.

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NY Safe Act requires Onondaga County to release many pistol permit holders' names, state official says

The same law that lets pistol permit holders keep their names private might also require Onondaga County to make public the names of up to 40,000 permit holders. Robert Freeman, the state's top open government official, said today a provision of the NY Safe Act adopted in January would require the county to release the names of permit holders who have not filed forms asking for privacy. Sheriff Kevin Walsh said the county has 40,000 to 50,000 pistol permit holders. About 10,000 of those have filed papers asking that their names not be made public, he said.

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June 21, 2013 12:13 PM

A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week. While you're at it, be sure to check out State FOIA Friday Archives.

 

Advocates, journalists honored for supporting open government

Three advocates of open government and three investigative journalists were honored Wednesday as the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information held its annual meeting in Hartford. The council gave its Champion of Open Government award to two former members of the state Freedom of Information Commission, Sherman London and Norma Riess, whose terms recently expired and who were not reappointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. London, former editorial page editor of the Waterbury Republican-American, served on the commission for 17 years, the longest-serving member in the commission's history.

Visit MyRecordJournal.com for the rest.

N.J. Legislature OKs bill allowing Bergen, five other counties to avoid publishing full text of ordinances in newspapers

Under a bill that is now heading to Governor Christie’s desk, Bergen County and five others could avoid publishing the full text of proposed ordinances in local newspapers. The bill received final legislative approval on Thursday, when the state Senate unanimously approved a version that passed the Assembly last month.

Visit NorthJersey.com for the rest.

FOI unearths St. Vincent draft proposal for UAMS combine

Joann Coleman, a civic activist who's been closely following the proposed UAMS-St. Vincent medical services merger, has unearthed yet another interesting document from her series of FOI inquiries. She detected from remarks by Chancellor Dan Rahn at UAMS that there were further documents indicating St. Vincent bargaining positions. She requested them. The UAMS lawyer said they didn't exist. She persisted. Wednesday, she got a response from University of Arkansas counsel Fred Harrison, Oops. Harrison said the UAMS lawyer didn't know about a proposed agreement drafted by St. Vincent's corporate attorney and sent to UAMS' private counsel (not, as the original post said, to Chancellor Rahn himself, according to a spokesman for UAMS).

Visit Arkansas Times for the rest.

City to TU: drop Sunshine suit or risk paying court costs

Lawyers defending Jacksonville against a Times-Union lawsuit that says secret pension negotiations involving Mayor Alvin Brown’s office broke state law are threatening to seek a court order for the newspaper to pay the city’s costs for the court fight. ... The Times-Union has filed challenges in state and federal court to a settlement agreement Brown’s office negotiated with police and fire unions and the city Police and Fire Pension Fund.

Visit The Florida Times-Union for the rest.

Gainesville supervisor’s FOIA request sparks another round of ‘logo-gate’

The debate some community bloggers dubbed “logo-gate” in recent weeks flared anew Tuesday when Supervisor Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, criticized fellow Supervisor Pete Candland, R-Gainesville, for continuing to push the issue with a three-page list of questions Candland fired off to county staff last week. Candland said it was an attempt to “clear up inconsistencies” in staff members’ public statements about the logo selection process.

Visit insidenova.com for the rest.

Marshall University, president sued for not honoring FOIA requests

HUNTINGTON – Marshall University and President Stephen J. Kopp are being sued for failing to honor multiple Freedom of Information Act requests. The petitioners include American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia; AFL-CIO; Christine Campbell, the president; and Drs. Dallas Brozik and James Sottile, members.

Visit The West Virginia Record for the rest.

California legislature to reconsider public records bill

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Facing intense public criticism, the Legislature's Democratic leaders on Wednesday prepared to back away from the provisions of a budget bill that threatened public access to information held by local governments. Assembly Speaker John Perez said his house will pass another bill that maintains a requirement for cities and counties to comply with the California Public Records Act. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, called a news conference for late Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue.

Visit Recordnet.com for the rest.

Open government Texans deserve

Memo to Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson: There will be no more hiding public information behind the cloak of personal email. With the signing of SB 1368, Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature have brought much-needed clarity to the state's Public Information Act. The new law specifies electronic messages dealing with official government business are public record, even those sent from private accounts.

Visit MySanantonio.com for the rest.

May 9, 2013 11:40 AM

From WVGazette: CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For years, West Virginia's Open Meetings Act has allowed state agencies, boards and commissions to call emergency meetings on a moment's notice -- but until now, it never defined what constitutes an emergency.

That changes with passage of HB2747, which spells out circumstances when emergency meetings may be called.

 

April 5, 2013 12:28 PM

Access Freedom of InformationA few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week. While you're at it, be sure to check out State FOIA Friday Archives.

 

Opinion: 514 days later, no use for records

A year and a half is a long time to wait for most things, but especially something that the state of North Carolina requires be given to you quickly. On Thursday, the University finally complied with a public records request I made in the fall of 2011 — a whopping 514 days after submission.

Visit The Daily Tar Heel for the rest.

State sues City of Huntington for FOIA request denial

HUNTINGTON – The State of West Virginia, by way of Charleston attorney Michael T. Clifford, is suing the City of Huntington for refusing to release records requested through the Freedom of Information Act. Clifford represents the Estate of Joshua Jonnie Emerson, who was shot to death by Huntington Police Officer Stephen Fitz on Dec. 22, according to a complaint filed March 28 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Visit The West Virginia Record for the rest.

Death certificates should stay public

On Friday, the General Assembly's public health committee will vote on a bill that would wrongly restrict public access to death certificates of children under 18. The bill represents an understandable but fraught and unwise reaction by some local officials to the slaughter of 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Dec. 14.

Visit Hartford Courant for the rest.

Maine official: I was harassed for not shredding public documents

AUGUSTA — ‪A division director at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has filed a discrimination claim with the Maine Human Rights Commission, alleging that senior managers assaulted and harassed her after she refused an order to shred public records. Sharon Leahy-Lind of Portland, director of the CDC's Division of Local Public Health, alleges in the complaint that her supervisor, CDC Deputy Director Christine Zukas, told her last spring to shred documents related to the competitive awards of funding to health outreach nonprofits under the Healthy Maine Partnership. She did not comply, believing it would be illegal.

Visit Kennebec Journal for the rest.

Oakland Code for America: Building a better public requests system (Community Voices)

Humans are profoundly resourceful and, at a basic level, selfish. We all have needs that must get filled. ... One of the spaces that my teammates and I researched in February, and are now working on a solution for, is the way the city of Oakland handles public records requests. There are many channels in which record requests are currently being made and many channels through which they get fulfilled.

Visit Oakland Local for the rest.

Indiana Senate committee amends bill setting fees for public records

An Indiana Senate committee today passed an amendment to a bill that would allow state and local government agencies to charge members of the public up to $20 an hour to search for public records. The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee voted 9-1 to amend House Bill 1175 with language that would let people use cellphones or other hand-held devices to take pictures of their own documents such as property records while inside county recorders’ offices.

Visit Indianapolis Star for the rest.

City releases consultant's report about police outsourcing

Last year City Council hired Management Consultants to review proposals for potential police outsourcing to save money in Pacifica's budget, but the consultant's report was not made public. The two proposals the city received, one from South San Francisco and one from the San Mateo County Sheriff, were made public, but an overview of the proposals made by the consultant was never released. The city attorney, Michelle Kenyon, maintained the report was private under attorney-client privilege because it pertained to employee negotiations. The Pacifica Tribune filed a request to see the report under the Freedom of Information Act. The request was denied by Michael Guina of Kenyon's law firm, Burke, Williams and Sorenstein in this letter dated Sept. 28, 2012.

Visit Mercury News for the rest.

Fallin clashes again with media over records requests

Being governor of Oklahoma has its privileges, which is the case in every other state as well. But apparently the Oklahoma governor has a few more privileges than most governors have. At least, that seems to be Gov. Mary Fallin's view. For example, when reporters demand public records under the state Open Records Act, Fallin can release the ones she feels comfortable releasing, and then claim she has "executive privilege" or "deliberative process privilege" or some other such privilege to keep other records from public view.

Visit Tulsa World for the rest.

Advocate sues LSU over president search records

The Advocate and LSU’s student newspaper filed public records lawsuits against the LSU Board of Supervisors on Monday, seeking documents related to LSU’s search for a new president of the state’s flagship university. That search, conducted largely in secret, yielded F. King Alexander — president of Cal State University in Long Beach, Calif. — as the sole finalist for LSU’s top post.

Visit The Advocate for the rest.

TEXAS VIEW: Attack of Open Meetings Act ends

The U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t have time for speciousness and frivolity. We wish we could say the same for public officials from 15 Texas cities, including Rockport. They spent nearly nine years trying to undermine the Texas Open Meetings Act until the court put an abrupt stop to it last Monday by declining to review their case. The plaintiffs argued that this cherished bulwark of the principle of open government violated another cherished right — theirs to free speech. How? Well, apparently the notion that two Alpine city councilwomen shouldn’t have emailed each other and two other council members privately to discuss official city business, and that they could have faced criminal penalties for having done so, was a tyrannical threat to the First Amendment.

Visit Odessa American for the rest.

March 29, 2013 8:46 AM

A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week. While you're at it, be sure to check out State FOIA Friday Archives and check out those pieces we linked to as part of our Sunshine Week News coverage.

Freelance reporter files three FOIA suits

CHARLESTON – A freelance reporter who contributes to the West Virginia Record filed three Freedom of Information lawsuits last week in Kanawha and Jackson counties. The defendants in the lawsuits are the West Virginia State Police and Col. Jay Smithers; Blaine Hess and the Jackson County Board of Education; and Teresa Tarr and the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission.

Visit The West Virginia Record for the rest.

The Public’s Beeswax

A jury this month declared guilty of corruption five former councilmembers of the city of Bell in Los Angeles County. For running a town that is a little larger than Eureka, with a similar percentage of people living in poverty, they had each received salaries more than 10 times what Eureka pays its city leaders. ... That story first broke when two reporters from the Los Angeles Times, Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives, requested salary figures for city leaders under the California Public Records Act.

Visit North Coast Journal for the rest.

FOIA complaint: Attorney General's Office finds Woodbridge in violation

BRIDGEVILLE – Delaware’s Attorney General’s Office has ruled in favor of Greenwood resident Daniel Kramer’s Freedom of Information Act complaint against the Woodbridge School District board of education, saying the school board was in FOIA violation in dealing with the resignation of then superintendent Dr. Phyllis Kohel and the hiring of then assistant superintendent Heath Chasanov as the district’s new superintendent in July 2012.

Visit Delaware.Newszap.com for the rest.

Breaking the law to publish the law: Open government advocate digitizes entirety of D.C. code

Sitting in front of me is a copy of one volume of the D.C. Code, the compendium of laws that govern everything from criminal acts to when and how you can rent your home to a stranger. This particularly volume, which covers Titles 43-46, has seen better days: the elegantly bound book has had its pages torn from its binding, as if someone was purposely trying to take the book apart. That's actually exactly what happened.

Visit DCist for the rest.

North Dakota open government wins, loses

Open government scored a victory and a defeat Wednesday in the North Dakota Legislature. The state Senate approved an amendment to House Bill 1215, involving the charged issue of a school district allowing concealed carry in its buildings. Lawmakers voted to remove the controversial amendment, which would have allowed districts to decide the fate of concealed carry in executive session, away from the ears of the public.

Visit Williston Herald for the rest.

Holding accountable all levels of government

A couple of weeks ago a couple of harbingers of Spring came and went, and each acknowledges how we depend on sunshine. One was Daylight Savings Time, letting us think about spring and more sunlight, and the other was “Sunshine Week,” a time to promote and praise transparency in government: open government.

Visit Tri States Public Radio for the rest.

Governor proposes $10 charge to access court files

Sacramento — Gov. Jerry Brown wants to let state courts charge the public $10 just to access files at county courthouses, one of a handful of provisions in his proposed budget that puts a price tag on the public’s right to know. Terry Francke, co-founder and general counsel of the open-government group Californians Aware, likened the court-fee proposal to installing coin-operated turnstiles at courthouse doors.

Visit U-T San Diego for the rest.

March 25, 2013 10:48 AM

Opinion from the Logan Banner:

When West Virginia House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, spoke at the West Virginia Press Association’s annual legislative breakfast last week he said West Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act law needed to be more open to allow citizens and journalists even more access to documents from public bodies.

Being true to his word, Armstead introduced a bill meant to make internal letters and memos from government bodies available to members of the public, unless the documents fall under another exemption of the state’s Freedom of Information Act law.

[...]

Then, on Tuesday, House Bill 2911 was introduced. ... 

It seeks an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act for all records pertaining to the issuance, renewal, expiration, suspension or revocation of a license to carry a concealed weapon. It carries the following note: “The purpose of this bill is to exempt records of concealed weapon license applications and issuance from disclosure under the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act.”

 

March 15, 2013 1:39 PM

From Journal-News.net:

CHARLESTON - Currently in West Virginia, the names and addresses of concealed weapons licensees is public information. But a bill introduced to the House of Delegates on Tuesday could change that.

HB2911 proposes to exempt from the Freedom of Information Act records pertaining to the issuance, renewal, expiration, suspension or revocation of a license to carry a concealed weapon, according to the legislation.

Delegate Mike Folk, R-Berkeley, who is the bill's lead sponsor, said he wrote the legislation in response to a New York newspaper's decision to publish the names and addresses of area gun owners last year. The newspaper obtained the information by way of New York's Freedom of Information Law requests, according to media reports.



March 7, 2013 1:44 PM

From The Republic:

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — West Virginia's affiliate of the ACLU is participating in a project examining local police use of military technology and tactics.

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia Foundation and 23 other ACLU affiliates across the country have filed public records requests with law enforcement and military agencies.



November 16, 2012 2:26 PM

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

ACLU lawsuit claims they were denied access to public records

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey claims in a lawsuit that the city of Passaic and its custodian of records have illegally denied it access to public records concerning police devices that read motor vehicle license plates. ...[T]he ACLU and the ACLU of Massachusetts filed federal Freedom of Information Act requests with the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Transportation to learn how the federal government funds and uses the license plate-reading technology.

Visit NorthJersey.com for the rest.

Age of Access: Asheville's budding open-data push

Although local governments have a huge amount of useful information that’s theoretically “public,” actually getting ahold of it can prove challenging, time-consuming and expensive. The idea is to bypass formal data requests (and the resulting demands on staff time to compile them) by enabling anyone with a computer or a smartphone to find out instantly what’s available — and access it, for free, anytime.

Open Data Day coincided with the city’s releasing a provisional version of an online open-data catalog. Meanwhile, Code for America, a national nonprofit that’s been described as a Peace Corps for geeks, has established a volunteer “brigade” in Asheville to help advance the process, with further assistance possible down the road.

Visit Mountain Xpress for the rest.

Chairman of Del. water authority in public records dispute promises "information release" soon

CAMDEN, Del. — The chairman of a Delaware water and sewer authority says he expects an "information release" soon in a public records dispute. Mark Dyer, chairman of the Camden-Wyoming Sewer and Water Authority, said Thursday that information would come probably by the end of the month. He didn't specify what records would be provided. He also didn't say whether the authority would fully comply with a judge's order to follow Delaware's Freedom of Information Act and disclose information about employee salaries.

Visit The Republic for the rest.

Utah Transit Authority ordered to disclose crime data

The State Records Committee voted 3-2 on Thursday to stop what its chairwoman said is an attempt by the Utah Transit Authority to use high fees to block access to public data. It ordered UTA police to give free access to public data in its crime database to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Visit Salt Lake Tribune for the rest.

West Virginia chapter ACLU files a FOIA request with the city of Parkersburg

PARKERSBURG - The West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city of Parkersburg seeking records about citations to individuals or organizations for soliciting funds without a permit. The request stems from citations issued to panhandlers standing at intersections with handmade signs asking for help from passing motorists.

Visit Parkersburg News and Sentinel for the rest.

2012 Digital Cities Survey winners announced

n this year's Digital Cities Survey, which highlights local governments demonstrating IT best practices to better serve its constituents, four cities took top honors: Louisville, Ky.; Salt Lake City; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Marana, Ariz. The Digital Cities Survey, now in its 12th year, is conducted by the Center for Digital Government (CDG), a division of Government Technology's parent company, eRepublic Inc. The survey was underwritten by AT&T, McAfee, ShoreTel and Sprint.

Visit Government Technology for the rest.

State rules in Wellesley (Mass.) schools' favor in public records request

Wellesley — The Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records has sided with the Wellesley Public Schools in a dispute over the costs of a records request made by the Wellesley Townsman.

Visit The Wellesley Townsman for the rest.

Oklahoma lawmakers hear from open-government advocates

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma appears to be one of only three states in which the Legislature has exempted itself from open records laws, a Senate panel was told Tuesday. The other two states are Massachusetts and Oregon, said Joey Senat, associate professor at the Oklahoma State University School of Media and Strategic Communications.

Visit Tulsa World for the rest.

UNC audit uncovers $123,500 missing from performing arts series office

CHAPEL HILL -- The box office and business operation of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Performing Arts series could not account for $123,500 in revenue that disappeared between 2007 and 2011, according to an internal university audit. The yearlong audit revealed that during a four-year period, $121,000 in cash revenue and another $2,500 in checks were missing from the business operation that oversees the box office for performances at UNC-CH’s Memorial Hall and other arts events. The audit was released to The News & Observer following a public records request.

Visit Winston-Salem Journal for the rest.

Want a copy of your town's annual budget in New York? It's not as easy as it seems

Most of Broome County’s 16 towns this year failed to comply with a new state law that requires all municipalities to post their budget proposals online — if they have a website — before holding public hearings on them. And despite longstanding requirements under state law, two would not release paper copies of the budgets until after public hearings on them.

Visit pressconnects.com for the rest.

November 2, 2012 10:52 AM

image of AccessA few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week:

Grant could help with West Virginia's records storage problem

PARKERSBURG (Nov 2, 2012) - A grant application for $17,000 will be submitted to the West Virginia Records Management and Preservation Board of the West Virginia Archives and History Division seeking help with records storage issues. ... The RMPB was created by the West Virginia Legislature in 2000 to develop a system of records management and preservation for county governments. Funding for the grants program comes from filing fees collected by county clerks and deposited in the special Public Records and Preservation Account.

Visit NewsandSentinel.com for the rest.

IN gubernatorial candidates weigh in on making government more accountable

(Nov 2, 2012) - In the race to become Indiana's next Governor, Democrat John Gregg and Republican Mike Pence say they'd like to make Indiana government more open and accountable. But they're offering few ideas on how they'd do it. ... The Indiana Coalition For Open Government posted those answers from the candidates online this week.

Visit TristateHomepage.com for the rest.

Candidates for N.C. governor support prying open some government records

(Nov 2, 2012) - The main candidates for governor say they favor taking some steps to make state government more transparent, but both avoid sweeping promises about opening up many more records than are already public. In recent interviews, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and Pat McCrory were generally in agreement when asked about disclosing more state employee personnel records, improving campaign finance reporting, making public ethics complaints and releasing their daily calendars. Both expressed concern about protecting employees’ and office-holders’ privacy while acknowledging the need to balance the public’s interest in monitoring state government.

Visit Winston-Salem Journal for the rest.

Greenwood (S.C.) school district refuses FOI request

(Nov 2, 2012) - GREENWOOD — Greenwood School District 50 is refusing to turn over information about the resignation of a high school volleyball coach to a newspaper. The Index-Journal of Greenwood filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the personnel file and emails concerning the employment of Emerald volleyball coach Gina Sargent.

Visit GreenvilleOnline.com for the rest.

Sarasota advisory boards dogged by Florida's costly Sunshine Law missteps

(Nov 1, 2012) - Government-in-the-Sunshine Law and public record missteps have cost Sarasota about $100,000 in legal fees since this spring and local attorney Andrea Mogensen's firm has garnered the majority of the money. The firm doggedly monitors local government for missteps and last week filed a suit claiming Sarasota's advisory boards have a widespread problem: Members conducting public business through private email accounts, text messages and social media.

Visit Herald-Tribune for the rest.

Have you ever used Utah's GRAMA? I’d like to share your story

(Nov 1, 2012) - People usually think of open government laws such as Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) , as tools for journalists. ... While journalists use the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), GRAMA and the open meetings act to hold elected officials and government agencies accountable, the laws were meant for the general public. Anyone can use those laws to see how government works, and to call bureaucrats and elected officials out when it doesn’t.

Visit The Salt Lake Tribune for the rest.

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