FOI Advocate News Blog

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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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August 14, 2015 10:46 AM

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — State officials are seeking input on whether government offices should be able to charge citizens to inspect public records.

Current state law allows charges for copying records, but inspection is generally free.  Continue>>>

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August 14, 2015 10:21 AM

The head of Florida’s main open-government organization said Wednesday Governor Rick Scott should personally pay the $700,000 settlement costs of a public records lawsuit, rather than letting taxpayers pick up the tab.

Scott agreed to a state-paid settlement after Internet giant Google was ordered to turn over relevant documents in a dispute with a Tallahassee attorney who accused the governor’s office of secretly using private emails for state business.”He’s playing fast and loose with our Constitution and we’re paying the cost, both literally and figuratively,” Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, said of Scott.  Continue>>>

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August 13, 2015 1:32 PM

Dozens of journalist and open government groups implied this week that President Obama has failed to live up to his promise to be the most open government in history, and called on him to make the workings of the federal government more accessible to journalists and watchdogs.

"When you first entered office you pledged to become the most transparent president in history," they wrote. "It is not too late to fulfill that promise."  Continue>>>

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August 13, 2015 1:23 PM

FOI Followup: Successful litigants in a lawsuit against Florida Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet return the funds to NFOIC and to the Knight Foundation FOI grant program. The grant was critical to secure legal representation that may not have occurred without the funds. Continue>>>

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August 12, 2015 3:46 PM

Public evaluation has begun of D.C. Mayor Bowser's latest proposal for limited access to video from police body cameras, with press representatives, the D.C. police union, and now the Washington Post suggesting further work is needed, especially reconsidering a complete ban on release of any video taken anywhere a person has a "heightened expectation of privacy."

The DC Open Government Coalition has obtained a copy of an August 6 memo from Deputy Mayor Kevin Donahue to Judiciary Committee Chair Kenyan McDuffie sketching the new proposal, due to be published in mid-September.  Initial reactions were reported in Aaron Davis's Washington Post story published Monday (10).  Continue>>>

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August 12, 2015 1:56 PM

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld a request for booking photographs of criminal defendants sought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in Detroit Free Press v. USDOJ.  Existing circuit precedent mandated this result. In their brief per curiam opinion, however, Judges Guy, Cook, and McKeague explained why they believe full 6th Circuit should reconsider this holding.  Continue>>>

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August 12, 2015 1:42 PM

In his 2013 State of the City speech, Mayor Michael Hancock touted a new city website to help residents determine how officials spend tax money.

“We will also fulfill our promise to be more transparent,” he told supporters, reporters and city staff. “In just a few short days, we will unveil an online tool that will show exactly how the city is spending your money. Through Transparent Denver, residents will have real-time access to view the city’s checkbook and so much more.”  Continue>>>

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August 12, 2015 12:40 PM

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), an independent non-profit research center and high-profile privacy and freedom of information advocacy group, announced yesterday that it filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to review the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s February 2015 judgment permitting the Department of Homeland Security to withhold releasing substantially all of a secret protocol that governs the shutdown of wireless networks in emergencies.

In a written statement about the litigation, EPIC President and Executive Director Marc Rotenberg commented, ”[t]he secret DHS policy to shut down cell phone service threatens public safety, open government, and First Amendment freedoms. EPIC has been seeking its public release for over four years. Now we are petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court after an earlier victory was overturned.” Continue>>>

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August 12, 2015 8:06 AM

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser has proposed that footage from police body cameras be made available to the public if the encounter with police happened in a public place.

Bowser’s proposal represents a reversal of her previous position that body-camera footage be exempted from the city’s freedom-of-information law. The proposal is meant to break a stalemate with the D.C. Council over public access to such recordings.  Continue>>>

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August 11, 2015 12:53 PM

The city of Berkeley has officially launched a new website featuring 17 data sets related to everything from municipal water usage and employee salaries to crime heat maps, energy consumption, restaurant inspections, registered business licenses and much more.

The city unveiled the website, which began on a pilot basis in December, on Thursday. City spokesman Matthai Chakko said the most exciting thing about the project is what the public might do with the information now that it’s available.  Continue>>>

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August 11, 2015 12:49 PM

A private vendor of the publicly-owned utility CPS Energy is suing the state Attorney General’s office in record time over an open records ruling favoring the public.

The AG ruled on July 7 that Cassidy Turley Real Estate Services/DTZ Americas has to turn over a contract it has with the San Antonio-based energy supplier as well as payment details, including incremental payouts for the completion of certain duties.  Continue>>>

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August 10, 2015 2:52 PM

Kansas policymakers say they want to bring the state’s open records law into the 21st century and ensure that public officials can’t flout it by using private e-mails and personal devices.

A special committee held its first meeting on the issue Friday and identified numerous questions on how the 30-year-old Kansas Open Records Act ought to be updated for a digital world.  Continue>>>

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