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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July 21, 2015 8:38 AM

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials will once again ascend Capitol Hill to answer lawmakers’ questions about the transit system’s safety and management.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on July 21 to follow-up on questions raised after the deadly incident at the L’Enfant Metro stop in January, where one woman died and dozens were hospitalized after being trapped in a smoke-filled train.  Continue>>>

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July 20, 2015 9:52 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched the first in a new series of monthly reports to highlight key trends from consumer complaints submitted to the Bureau. The monthly report includes complaint data on company performance, complaint volume, state and local information, and product trends. Each month, the report will spotlight a particular product and geographic location – this report provides a closer look at debt collection complaints and complaints from consumers in Milwaukee, Wis. The reports will provide insight for the public into the hundreds of thousands of consumer complaints on financial products and services handled by the CFPB.

“Consumer complaints are the CFPB’s compass and play a central role in everything we do. They help us identify and prioritize problems for potential action,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “These monthly reports will enable us to share that data with the public more regularly, so that everyone can benefit from the information.”  Continue>>>

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July 20, 2015 9:31 AM

City of Detroit officials, including Mayor Mike Duggan, sometimes use private e-mail accounts to conduct the public’s business — a practice that concerns open records experts and one that has hounded Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Duggan explained his tolerance for city employees using private e-mail accounts for official business after the Free Press obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act showing Melvin Butch Hollowell, the city’s top lawyer, using both his Gmail account and city-issued e-mail account to communicate with a Detroit International Bridge Co. executive during negotiations for the pending Riverside Park land swap.  Continue>>>

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July 20, 2015 8:39 AM

Public agencies in Missouri that don’t respond in three days to requests for public records under the state Sunshine Law give up their right to block the release of the records requested, a judge says in a lawsuit over the release of the pharmacy name in Missouri’s executions.

An acknowledgement of the receipt of the request is not enough, the judge said. The law says the public body either has to provide the records, explain the cause of the delay along with a timeline for disclosure, or deny the records citing an exemption in the state law upon request.  Continue>>>

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July 17, 2015 2:25 PM

WHEN THE DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER Laura Poitras filed a complaint under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) against three US government agencies this week, most media outlets ran stories on the details that built her argument, overlooking the issue of public records.

After all, who could resist the story of a bitter and burned federal government hounding a journalist who appeared to have crossed some unspoken line? More than 50 times between 2006 and 2012, her lawsuit alleges, security forces targeted the journalist for intense rounds of detention and questioning. Government officials had, at one point, even confiscated her laptop, cellphone, and notebooks. Continue>>>

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July 17, 2015 9:36 AM

TALLAHASSEE – Project Sunburst, a public email-disclosure system started by Gov. Rick Scott after he took office in 2011, has been more of “a sunshine bust,” an open-government advocate said Thursday.

The First Amendment Foundation, a Tallahassee-based watchdog group, sent an email to its members saying the system “has shed little light on the activities of the governor, his staff or his working relationship with the departments of state government.”  Continue>>>

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July 17, 2015 9:10 AM

JEFFERSON CITY — A circuit judge has ruled that Missouri violated open records laws by refusing to disclose the pharmacies that make the state's execution drug.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled Wednesday that the Department of Corrections broke the Sunshine Law.  Continue>>>

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July 17, 2015 8:52 AM

The administration is planning an emphasis on making open data more accessible to the broader public in its annual update to the city's open data plan.

The annual update on July 15 is a key component of the city's open data law passed in 2012, and this year marks the first update under chief analytics officer Amen Ra Mashariki, who assumed his position last fall.  Continue>>>

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July 17, 2015 8:47 AM

Nine localities — at  both the city and county level — have committed to a set of open data building and construction permit standards, a move primed to boost insights into the housing market and propel civic app development.

On July 15, an alliance of cities, counties and companies from the civic tech and real-estate industries announced the Building and Land Development Specification 1.0. (BLDS, pronounced as “builds”) open data standard. Continue>>>

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July 17, 2015 8:33 AM

Union County Superior Court Judge James Hely issued an opinion on Monday, July 13 that the Summit Housing Authority failed to properly reply to an Open Public Records Act request for minutes of the non-public (executive or closed session) meetings of its Board of Commissioners.

The ruling followed oral argument on July 10.  The court date was announced along with details of the case in a press release issued by NJFOG just last week.  Continue>>>

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July 16, 2015 1:15 PM

With the 24-hour news cycle and at-your-fingers access to the latest stories, the American people have plenty of information constantly available to them. And whether they know it or not, they are using much of that information as a de facto source for evaluating the effectiveness of government.

Each of us serves as a self-contained big data processor, tagging data elements in our own minds and using the information later to formulate decisions such as preferred presidential candidates, favored legislative efforts, and opinions about policy nuances that we may not even understand to be nuanced or policy-related.  Continue>>>

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July 16, 2015 12:29 PM

JOLIET – Joliet Junior College officials and their attorneys are reviewing a decision from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office that says the college partially violated a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by The Herald-News.

The Herald-News in May requested under the state’s FOIA law a letter JJC Police Chief Pete Comanda sent to the Board of Trustees on July 4, 2013, as well as responses to that letter from past Board Chairman Andrew Mihelich and employees with Robbins Schwartz, the college’s attorneys.  Continue>>>

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