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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November 25, 2016 11:14 PM

After months of wrangling with reporters and in court over the disclosure of emails, the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday released a third batch of its correspondence with outside advisers that it has designated as “agents of the city.”

The emails, released in response to a Freedom of Information Law request, totaled more than 1,550 pages and date to the first days of Mr. de Blasio’s tenure, in early 2014, through April 2015.

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November 25, 2016 11:10 PM

The House passed laws in September that would expand the state's Freedom of Information Act, which allows citizens to access records, to the governor's office. The bills would also subject the legislature to a separate Legislative Open Records Act. Currently neither the governor or legislature are subject to FOIA.

While the bills passed the House easily, there seems to be less appetite in the Senate, where they've been referred to the Government Operations Committee. That committee has a reputation around the capitol for being where bills go to die.

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November 25, 2016 11:06 PM

The Missouri Department of Corrections knowingly violated the state’s Sunshine Law when it refused to provide records about applicants who sought to witness Missouri executions, an appeals court ruled.

The ACLU had sued to obtain the information to determine if the department was choosing witnesses impartially.

In response, the corrections department produced heavily redacted records, even though many witness applicants had agreed to produce the information.

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November 23, 2016 11:13 PM

The Daily Tar Heel filed a lawsuit against UNC on Monday for access to public records regarding sexual assault cases on campus.

The Daily Tar Heel requested the records Sept. 30 and set a deadline of Oct. 28 which the University did not meet.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of The Daily Tar Heel, the Capital Broadcasting Company, the Charlotte Observer Publishing Company and The Durham Herald Company against Chancellor Carol Folt as the custodian of the records and Gavin Young, senior director for public records at UNC.

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November 23, 2016 11:09 PM

Faced with a rising death toll from opioid abuse, Texas public health officials in May decided to apply for a $1 million federal grant to purchase Naloxone, a drug that, if administered during an overdose, can save the life of a person addicted to heroin or pain pills.

The Texas Department of State Health Services hired an outside grant writer to begin drafting a proposal, which was due at the end of the month. As the deadline drew closer, outside researchers and public health workers were brought in to help. If the grant was approved, community health workers and first responders hoped to have the Naloxone on hand by year’s end, courtesy of funding by the Obama administration.

But state officials never submitted the application. Researchers and advocates who contributed to the grant process said they were surprised to learn their work was for naught. They said state officials never offered them an explanation for why the grant was not pursued.

Now, the public health agency is going to unusual lengths to keep the public from seeing government records related to the grant. In response to a public information request filed by The Texas Tribune, the Texas Attorney General’s office told the health agency in September that records about the aborted grant application are public under Texas law.

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November 23, 2016 11:06 PM

Colorado has had its share of high-profile criminal cases.

The aborted rape prosecution of NBA star Kobe Bryant. The capital trial of Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes. The preliminary hearing for the kidnapper and killer of 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway. The pending prosecution of the admitted Planned Parenthood shooter, Robert Lewis Dear.

In each case, a judge entered an order severely restricting the public’s right to inspect records kept in court files, largely out of concern that seating an impartial jury would be more difficult if the records were widely disseminated.

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November 22, 2016 3:24 PM

The "Divided America" series began in June. The e-book also includes personal reflections from AP journalists that provide additional insight into the lives of those they profiled over a period of several months.

Proceeds from each purchase of the e-book will support the efforts of the National Freedom of Information Coalition in protecting the right to an open government and advocating for accessibility and transparency, especially at the state and local levels.

"The National Freedom of Information Coalition works every day to make certain public records stay that way, and that people have open access to the democratic processes in their state," said Mal Leary, president of the coalition's board. "We are humbled to have AP's support in keeping state government open, by means of this project."

"Divided America" is available now for $2.99 exclusively on Amazon.

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AP, NFOIC
November 22, 2016 3:20 PM

The law enforcement arm of the private university, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has contended that it doesn't have to comply with state records laws, and the Utah Records Committee has agreed.

But The Salt Lake Tribune is scheduled to argue in court Monday that because the state granted the department full policing powers — the same as any other public law enforcement agency in Utah — it should be open to public scrutiny.

After BYU police refused to release records of communication between the department and the Mormon school's Honor Code and Title IX Offices, the records committee declined to review the newspaper's appeal. The Tribune filed a challenge to that decision in 3rd District Court.

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November 21, 2016 12:41 PM

The Delray Beach Police Department will equip all of its officers with body cameras within five years after the city agreed Tuesday to put nearly $1 million toward the venture.

“This is going to be the norm in law enforcement,” Police Chief Jeff Goldman told the city commission Tuesday evening. “We are just a proactive organization and we try to stay ahead of curve.”

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November 21, 2016 12:39 PM

The Fort Smith School Board has been found in violation of the Freedom of Information Act for a thread of emails among board members that discussed the new slate of officers prior to elections.

Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue issued a letter to the school board members Nov. 8 stating “after careful review of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and the relevant law, I believe that a violation of the Freedom of Information Act has occurred.”

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November 21, 2016 12:36 PM

The University of Notre Dame's campus police department is not a "public agency" under Indiana law and does not have to provide information about investigations requested by sports media company ESPN, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled in a widely watched case.

The decision, released Wednesday afternoon, means Notre Dame and other private colleges in Indiana with police forces have no obligation to provide details of campus police reports and investigations.

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November 18, 2016 12:02 PM

Yesterday, the NYPD published a massive data set of historic crime data in the City’s open data portal. The data includes 5.5 million criminal complaints that were filed from January 2006 to December 2015, and covers “all valid felony, misdemeanor, and violation crimes reported to the New York City Police Department.” This data release is one of the largest of any kind in recent years, and provides a huge increase in the amount of publicly-available crime data. Previously, the NYPD only published historical information for the “seven major” felonies on the portal. (The 2016 Year-to-Date crimes are in a separate data set.)

Previous to this data release, the NYPD aggregated this data by years and category, or displayed it on the CompStat 2.0 portal, which mapped some crime data, but did not provide open data that the public could analyze or map themselves. Reinvent Albany has been pushing for the release of this data for sometime, and had requested it via a Freedom of Information request in June 2016.

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