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 27, 2012 10:10 AM

With a remix of the tried and true FOI Friday, we hereby introduce NFOIC's State FOIA Friday, available same time (Fridays) and same station (NFOIC's blog) with 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:

Dallas police defend email retention policy

A Dallas police practice that gives employees discretion to destroy emails permanently has come under scrutiny from open-government advocates. The leader of the National Freedom of Information Coalition said the department’s decision to scrub some emails unilaterally fails the “common sense smell test.” Ken Bunting, its executive director, also questioned whether the quick deletion of certain messages violates Texas statutes on retaining official records.

Visit Dallasnews.com for the rest.

Ohio AG says JobsOhio rules could shield public records

COLUMBUS -- Ohio's top lawyer said a broadly worded bill creating rules for Ohio's new economic development agency could turn otherwise public records private. The Columbus Dispatch reported Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine plans to ask Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers to reword the legislation. The bill cleared the Ohio House on Wednesday and next heads to the state Senate.

Visit CoshoctonTribune.com for the rest.

SC House approves bill strengthening Freedom of Information Act, removing lawmakers' exemption

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina House approved a bill Thursday strengthening the state's open records law. The bill approved 101-1 a bill barring public agencies, governments and school districts from charging excessive fees for public records and requiring them to respond more quickly. It also removes legislators' exemption from the law.

Visit The Republic for the rest.

Ark. court: Medical-case records not under FOI law

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Supreme Court has upheld a lower court's ruling that the documents an attorney requested from another lawyer in connection with a medical malpractice case are not subject to the state's public records law.

Visit nola.com for the rest.

Connecticut town led astray on freedom of information

Here in southeastern Connecticut, the town of Stonington has in the past few years faced more than its share of complaints over issues as prosaic as labor disputes or as salacious as a lewd photograph allegedly sent online by the first selectman to a Pawcatuck woman. The most recent infraction took place last February, when the FOI panel ruled Stonington violated state law by refusing to release union grievances filed by Zoning Enforcement Officer Joe Larkin.

Visit theday.com for the rest.

County government's notice of meeting was sufficient, in Counsel's eyes

MURFREESBORO — Rutherford County’s government could have posted a notice about its planning commission’s meeting on a mosque site plan at a courthouse or other public building and that would have been OK. Office of Open Records Counsel Elisha Hodge testified that a public building, such as a “bank” or even a “judicial building,” could serve as the vehicle to carry meeting notices to members of the public.

Visit dnj.com for the rest.

Nutter signs open data, social media policy for Philly

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an executive order Thursday afternoon that establishes open data and internal social media policies for the city. Basically, it should provide residents increased access and transparency to city data sets.

Visit NBC10 Philadelphia for the rest.

State Lawmaker Files FOIA Request with SEU

State Representative Greg Lavelle has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Delaware’s Sustainable Energy Utility for records pertaining to the organization’s meetings.

Visit WGMD.COM for the rest.

Washington Supreme Court to hear arguments on 'executive privilege' public records case

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire will have to defend her claims of "executive privilege," as the Washington Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case over her decisions to withhold certain documents from the public, which critics deride as government secrecy. Executive privilege is not listed as a specific exemption under state law, but a Thurston County judge ruled last year that Gregoire, a Democrat, was allowed to use it as a reason to keep documents private.

Visit The Republic for the rest.

FOIA changes in Delaware's largest county

Effective May 1, New Castle County Executive Paul Clark says it will be easier and cheaper for people to access public records under the Freedom of Information Act. The county executive plans to sign an executive order he says models the one adopted by the state last fall.

Visit newsworks for the rest.

April 27, 2012 9:36 AM

From Federal Computer Week:

Open government watchdog groups are applauding the House passage of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) on April 25 that would require federal agencies to consistently report spending information on a new, searchable Web platform.

The legislation passed by a voice vote and will now go before the Senate. If it becomes law, it will establish standards for identifying and publishing electronic information about federal spending.

April 27, 2012 9:30 AM

From NPR:

Government regulators take up a rule with wide political implications Friday. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote on a proposal requiring TV stations to post online information about the campaign ads they air.

Stations are already compelled to keep those records in public files. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says it's time to make that information available on the Internet. But TV stations are resisting.

... Open-government groups applaud the idea.

April 27, 2012 9:24 AM

From TimesReporter.com:

WASHINGTON — A federal judge Thursday denied a request to release photos and video taken of Osama bin Laden during and after a raid in which the terrorist leader was killed by U.S. commandos last year.

"The court declines plaintiff's invitation to substitute its own judgment about the national-security risks inherent in releasing these records for that of the executive-branch officials who determined that they should be classified," wrote U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg in rejecting a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.

April 27, 2012 9:04 AM

From ZDNet:

The Electronic Privacy Information Center expects to hear next month whether the FCC will provide a full, unedited report into whether Google violated any wiretapping laws in collecting data as part of its Street View program.

EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to see the unredacted Federal Communications Commission report on Google’s actions during the FCC’s investigation of the search giant. The FCC report was published nearly two weeks ago. EPIC is also asking to see any related documents.

EPIC, fcc, Google
April 27, 2012 9:00 AM

From Huffington Post:

The House of Representatives passed cybersecurity legislation Thursday aimed at protecting American companies from hackers who steal intellectual property.

[...]

But the legislation has been criticized by privacy and civil liberties groups who said its definition of the consumer data that can be shared with the government is overly broad. The bill's authors added several amendments to appease concerns, such as limiting the federal government's use of private information and restricting which cyber-threat data can be shared.

April 26, 2012 3:46 PM

From Journal-topics.com:

The Illinois Attorney General is looking into whether or not the village of Palatine violated provisions of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) by failing to provide proper notice of a Mar. 15 joint district council advisory meeting at the new police headquarters with councilmen Kollin Kozlowski (5th) and Brad Helms (6th).

April 26, 2012 3:45 PM

From PBA.org:

The Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, along with some immigrants’ rights groups, has filed a “Freedom of Information Act” request with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The request asks for information related to two immigration enforcement programs in Georgia. Azadeh Shashahani, with the Georgia ACLU, says they want information about Secure Communities and 287 (g). 

April 26, 2012 3:44 PM

From The Harvard Crimson:

The Harvard Library took another step toward making research materials and library resources more accessible when it announced yesterday that it will make more than 12 million bibliographic records for a wide range of materials—including books, images, videos, and manuscripts—available to the public.

April 26, 2012 3:44 PM

From OurayNews.com:

The district Accountability Committee presented its findings from a survey of staff, parents and teachers, to the Ridgway School Board on Wednesday, Apr. 18, at the regular meeting of the school board. As the board members discussed the findings, Cheryl Gomez, district superintendent, refused to give a copy of the report to the Plaindealer, claiming “It’s actually a work piece for the board. It will be released to you. It will be up to the board when they release it to you.”

April 26, 2012 3:42 PM

From TheHawkEye.com:

The Iowa Senate unanimously approved an overhaul of the state's open meetings and records law Monday in a plan designed to offer greater public access to government.

The plan now goes to Gov. Terry Branstad, who has been supportive of the concept but hasn't signed off on details. The proposal comes after years of debate about enforcing laws giving the public access to government meetings and records.

April 26, 2012 3:41 PM

From DesMoinesRegister.com:

Iowa is getting a new state agency dedicated to enforcement of open government.

The Senate on Monday approved the bill, Senate File 430, on a 49-0 vote, sending the legislation to Gov. Terry Branstad, who championed the bill as one of his top legislative priorities this year.

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